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The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas by Carole Matthews

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Length: 496 pages

As always, the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say:

Christmas is just around the corner but the women of The Chocolate Lovers’ Club have more to worry about than present shopping . . .

Lucy loves running Chocolate Heaven but she hasn’t spent time with her boyfriend, Aiden, in weeks. And then her ex-fiance turns up and things become even more complicated.

Nadia hasn’t let herself get close to a man in a long time, yet she can’t help feeling drawn to Jacob. Will he be her last chance for a happy ending?

Chantal and her husband, Ted, are besotted with their baby daughter Lana – but she’s not sure that’s enough to base a marriage on.

Autumn is dealing with a tragedy that has hit too close to home. But when she doesn’t get the support she needs from her fiance, will she look elsewhere for comfort?

Can friendship overcome all in . . . The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas.

The review: Well, I’m not sure that this IS a review, given that I unfortunately called it a day at 36%, after two years and numerous attempts to read, but I need to let you know why I didn’t finish, so here it goes.

I requested this book on the back of numerous rave reviews, all four and five stars, from various bloggers out there. We all know that Carole Matthews and Sarah Morgan took their roles as queens of Christmas some time ago, and I’d read ‘Calling Mrs Christmas,’ and  ‘With Love at Christmas’ and I think one other and had always fallen in love with them and eaten them up over the holiday period. I found her descriptions magical and wonderous and everything a Christmas read should be.

I’m not sure whether it’s been since I’ve started blogging, and so have upped my range of books, but I found myself drifting away from the story, of Lucy, manager of ‘Chocolate Heaven, her friends, Autumn, Chantal and Nadia, and her boyfriend, Aidan.  I didn’t really connect with any of them, finding them a little immature and a bit selfish. What drove this home was that anytime anyone was ANYWAY nice to anyone else, there were cries of how lovely they were, how selfless etc, and as it happened a few times it began to grate a little.

From the start there was comedy, only because I wasn’t sure I liked the characters, I’m afraid it didn’t really connect. Interspersed with everything going wrong for Lucy, with some really funny moments that I honestly would have liked if I wasn’t finding it hard to connect with her, were some more serious issues, the story of Autumn’s past, which for the first time made me realise what people meant when they said some issues didn’t fit in with the chick lit genre and felt out of place. Jumping from fun and hilarity to this, with the drama dial suddenly upped out of nowhere just felt muddled and I found myself shrugging a little. Add to this their solution to everything was chocolate, and yes I know this is The Chocolate Lovers’ series, and so it’s a given, but it was mentioned so much the word itself lost all meaning.

The descriptions of setting, as they headed towards Christmas, as ever, were stunning, beautiful, magnificent, making you want to transport yourself to that time of year. And so I trundled on. I stopped and started this book so many times. I’ve only ever given up on three books in my life, and I couldn’t fathom that this would be number four. I know that there are a world of people out there that adore this book, and I’ve no doubt there will be so many people who will love it, and it will be a great Christmas read for them, unfortunately not for me. Thanks to Netgalley for this book in return for an honest review, and apologies it didn’t work out.

No rating as I didn’t finish.

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The Christmas Surprise by Samantha March @BySamanthaMarch

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Length: 77 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal buy link for the book

What they say: Juliette Mabry is a happily married stay-at-home wife and mother…until there appears to be trouble brewing in her nearly ten-year marriage. Juliette takes it upon herself to find out if her husband is up to no good, but does she want to know the truth? Everything is revealed on Christmas, and Juliette is in for her biggest Christmas surprise.

The review: First off I have to mention that the author of this book is none other than Samantha March, who runs blog tours on Chick Lit Plus. I have always followed Ms. March on both Facebook and her blog and love how her posts are so bright, inspirational and motivational. There was also the fact that I knew she had written a great deal of books (see them here) and so, when I saw this for free last year (£0.99 now), well, you know, you’re always curious, aren’t you? So I guess I’m starting off my Christmas books here. I know it’s early, but I think it’s going to be another year where there’s going to be a lot of excellent titles out here (last year I steered very clear but the year before I read a fair few, see wrap up here) so off we go!

This story starts with a lady in a toilet stall, listening to the rumour mill starting up about someone’s partner having an affair and I was intrigued straight away. The scene was reminiscent of Desparate Housewives, and indeed this programme was mentioned, with our protagonist wondering if they could be talking about her best friend, who had once been caught sleeping with her gardener. And this was the essence of the story, which had me so early on, and kept me through every twist and turn with its ‘who can you trust?’ tale of betrayal and deceipt. It featured lavish lifestyles, yoga and Botox, but with more likeable characters than I’d have expected from a book set in this backdrop. The descriptions were beautiful and grabbed you and put you right there, the suspence got you and I read it in an evening. The only issue I had was that I felt it could have been just a little braver, but saying this I enjoyed the ending. Add to this that it was a free Christmas read which made it that little bit more satisfying! This is a book that will definitely send me back to Ms. March’s back catalogue.

Rating: 4.5/5

 

Excerpt: The Big Dreams Beach Hotel by Lilly Bartlett @MicheleGormanUK

 

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Amazon UK

Amazon US

Length: 228 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

I’m afraid this is horrendously late, as it was due by the weekend, and a big big apology needs to go to both Michele Gorman and Harper Impulse, but I suppose the silver lining is that instead of telling you to pre-order, I can tell you that The Big Dreams Beach Hotel is now available on Amazon. I’m reading a lot of thrillers at the moment and wanted something a little lighter and I really enjoyed The Second Chance Cafe In Carlton Square (read review here), so when I remembered I had this to promote I went straight to Kindle Unlimited to download. Anyhoo, enough rattling on, here’s the story!

A heartwarming, cosy romance from Sunday Times bestselling author Michele Gorman, now writing as Lilly Bartlett

This is a brand new standalone novel from the author of the Carlton Square series with a whole new cast of characters to fall in love with!

What they say: Wriggle your toes in the sand and feel the warm breeze on your face at the hotel that’s full of dreams…

 Three years after ditching her career in New York City, Rosie never thought she’d still be managing the quaint faded Victorian hotel in her seaside hometown.

 What’s worse, the hotel’s new owners are turning it into a copy of their Florida properties. Flamingos and all. Cultures are clashing and the hotel’s residents stand in the way of the developers’ plans. The hotel is both their home and their family.

 That’s going to make Rory’s job difficult when he arrives to enforce the changes. And Rosie isn’t exactly on his side, even though it’s the chance to finally restart her career. Rory might be charming, but he’s still there to evict her friends.

 How can she follow her dreams if it means ending everyone else’s?

The Excerpt:

New York is where I fell head over heels for a bloke named Chuck. I know: Chuck. But don’t judge him just because he sounds like he should be sipping ice-cream floats at the drive-in or starring in the homecoming football game. Rah rah, sis boom bah, yay, Chuck!

Believe me, I didn’t plan for a Chuck in my life. But that’s how it happens, isn’t it? One minute you’ve got plans for your career and a future that doesn’t involve the inconvenience of being in love, and the next you’re floating around in full dozy-mare mode.

I won’t lie to you. When Chuck walked into our hotel reception one afternoon in late October, it wasn’t love at first sight. It was lust.

Be still, my fluttering nethers.

Talk about unprofessional. I could hardly focus on what he was saying. Something about organising Christmas parties.

‘To be honest, I don’t really know what I’m doing,’ he confided as he leaned against the reception desk. His face was uncomfortably close to mine, but by then I’d lived in New York for eighteen months. I was used to American space invaders. They’re not being rude, just friendly. And Chuck was definitely friendly.

‘I only started my job about a month ago,’ he told me. ‘It’s my first big assignment, so I really can’t fuck it up. Sorry, I mean mess it up.’ His blue (so dark blue) eyes bore into mine. ‘I’m hoping someone here can help me.’

It took all my willpower not to spring over the desk to his aid. Not that I’m at all athletic. I’d probably have torn my dress, climbed awkwardly over and landed face-first at his feet.

Keep him talking, I thought, so that I could keep staring. He looked quintessentially American, with his square jawline and big straight teeth and air of confidence, even though he’d just confessed to being hopeless at his new job. His brown hair wasn’t too long but also wasn’t too short, wavy and artfully messed up with gel, and his neatly trimmed stubble made me think of lazy Sunday mornings in bed.

See what I mean? Lust.

‘I noticed you on my way back from Starbucks,’ he said.

At first, I thought he meant he’d noticed me. That made me glance in the big mirror on the pillar behind him, where I could just see my reflection from where I was standing. At five-foot four, I was boob-height behind the desk in the gunmetal-grey fitted dress uniform all the front-desk staff had to wear. My wavy dark-red hair was as neat as it ever got. I flashed myself a reflected smile just to check my teeth. Of course, I couldn’t see any detail from where I stood. Only my big horsy mouth. Mum says giant teeth make my face interesting. I think I look a bit like one of the Muppets.

‘Do you have the space for a big party?’ he said. ‘For around four hundred people?’

He didn’t mean he’d noticed me; only the hotel. ‘We’ve got the Grand Ballroom and the whole top floor, which used to be the restaurant and bar. I think it’s even prettier than the ballroom, but it depends on your style and your budget and what you want to do with it.’

Based on his smile, you’d have thought I’d just told him we’d found a donor kidney for his operation. ‘I’ve been looking online, but there are too many choices,’ he said. ‘Plus, my company expects the world.’ He grimaced. ‘They didn’t like the hotel they used last year, or the year before that. I’m in over my head, to be honest. I think I need a guiding hand.’

I had just the hand he was looking for, and some ideas about where to guide it.

But instead of jumping up and down shouting ‘Pick Me, Pick Me!’, I put on my professional hat and gave him our events brochure and the team’s contact details. Because normal hotel receptionists don’t launch themselves into the arms of prospective clients.

When he reached over the desk to shake my hand, I had to resist the urge to bob a curtsy. ‘I’m Chuck Williamson. It was great to meet you, Rosie.’

He knew my name!

‘And thank you for being so nice. You might have saved my ass on this one. I’ll talk to your events people.’ He glanced again at my chest.

He didn’t know my name. He’d simply read my name badge.

 

About the author:

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Lilly Bartlett’s cosy romcoms are full of warmth, quirky characters and guaranteed happily-ever-afters.

Lilly is the pen-name of Sunday Times and USA Today best-selling author, Michele Gorman, who writes best friend-girl power comedies under her own name.

The Sinking Chef (Pot love 2) by Sylvia Ashby @bysylvia_a

 

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Length:339 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: Bridget Jones meets Burnt in this delightful comedy novel about a talented YouTuber and the guy who keeps trying to bring her down. Although part of a series this book is completely standalone, as are all other novels in the Pot Love Series.

In Belsize Park, London, Ashley works hard on her daily YouTube channel “The Sinking Chef”. It’s filmed right in her kitchen, so she doesn’t go out much.

James is a gruff British TV director, turned publisher, who Ashley had a crush on ages ago. She has moved on but when he calls with an offer to take her out to lunch she doesn’t say no. It’s only lunch – what can go wrong?

The day Ashley meets James for lunch and he promises her a book deal, she makes the worse decision in her life – to hide the book deal from her boyfriend, Giacomo. As things progress Ashley’s secrets mount up and other things in her life unravel. Is there a connection? And how is she going to get out of this without losing Giacomo and the life she loves?

Set in the heart of fast-paced London, The Sinking Chef is a charming story of love, recipes, secrets, and the determination to do thinks right by those you love most in your life.

 

The Review: Some things you’ll already know from my previous reviews of The Treachery of Trains (review here) and Pot Love 1 (review here):

  1. Sylvia Ashby can transport you straight to any part of the world with just a few words.
  2. Her stories are captivating and she does romance and heat like no other (swoon!)
  3. I’ve ‘met’ her through the internet and she’s beyond lovely!

So, now that’s out of the way: Pot Love 2. When I heard this was coming out I was very excited. I’ve told you all before how horrendous I am in the kitchen and so I lean towards all books where there’s talent or not shown in terms of food. I have to admit I worried a bit that it wouldn’t come close to Pot Love 1, where we watched Ashley struggle to overcome her culinary gremlins, but I needn’t have.

We begin the book (as we did last time) with a recipe, although this time it’s that of Pasta alla Puttanesca. The recipe was written in lay person’s language which really made me warm to the Pot Love series all over again. Our story, however, begins not in the kitchen, but back with Ashley. She’s wandered in error onto Mumsnet, and is speaking to a number of mothers, horrified at what she’s hearing. She has no children, but is being pressured into getting pregnant since her and the lovely Giacomo are together three years now. The comedy made me settle in, and I knew I was in for a treat.

As the story flowed on, I was reminded of how much I enjoy Ms. Ashby’s characters, with her mother, new husband and kids, who weren’t exactly au fait at showing Ashley love, then of course the lovely Giacomo and the re-introduction of her nemesis James, who I was sure was out to get her. In terms of comedy, there’s some oldies but goodies in there, from an employee who is worried about getting into trouble abandoning the phone with ‘a feeble voice saying “Hello!’ and “Is anyone there?” from the receiver,’ to Ashby’s pros and cons list for relationship issues : ‘PROS: I Can’t go back to dating I CAN’T! … CONS: I Can’t go back to dating I CAN’T!’ There is also a cookery book deal (yay to us seeing the inside of an agent’s office!), some underhanded dealings with Giacomo’s top restaurant and some backstabbing.

This is a lot perkier than either of Ms. Ashby’s previous books, and not one for people whose reviews tend to make sure to tell us all that something was fine for a book in this genre (chick lit) or that they don’t usually read books in this genre etc. For those who are fans of a good romantic comedy or chick lit book, however, this is a quirky fun read with a nice lashing of sophistication on the side. Extremely enjoyable and very much recommended.

Rating: 4.5/5

Oh by the way just to tell you that the recipes from the books are actually found in a new Pot Love Recipe book which I had to have as the recipes were written so simply even I felt I could have a go! (I’m going to make it easy for you, you’ll find it here!!)

Pps Tune in tomorrow for an excerpt from Pot Love 2!

That is all!

Perfect Mayhem: The Perfect Disaster Series by Aimee Horton

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Length: 216 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: Bridget Jones’s Diary meets The Nanny Diaries in this Amazon UK Best Seller!

The only thing Dottie Harris loves more than her gin & tonic is her family. Most of the time. From her hapless-but-well-meaning husband to her two energetic bundles of joy, Dottie certainly has her hands full. And she’s tired. So tired.

With quips like “How do sleeping babies know the minute you sit down?” this modern-day diary will have you laughing—when you’re not crying with empathy, that is!

Dottie tells it like it is: the good, the bad, and the eternal piles of dirty laundry.

Previously published as Survival of the Ginnest

The Review: So you’ll know already what a huge fan I am of Aimee Horton’s (Review of Survival of The Christmas Spirit is here ). I adore her straight cut tell it like it is humour about family life and generally finish her books wishing I had another of hers close to hand so I could keep going.

As you can see above it is Dottie Harris’ story and  is pretty much told through social media-so the way you’d see someone’s Facebook posts. I loved this idea but had to admit to being a little disappointed at the fact it was just her posts and not the resulting comments that came underneath. That being said it made it read like a series of one liners, and such a fast, enjoyable, easy read that it was more like finding a magazine that had something enjoyable on every page.

In terms of content it seemed like this book was tailor made, with references to The Apprentice,Dragons Den, Project Runway and One Born Every Minute and then Katy from I Can Cook and ‘hello puppy calling,’ making me almost jump around in excitement (what that makes me I don’t know!) The humour was spot on and the scenarios were such that I nodded along, in some cases experiencing similar occurances as I read! This is one for the parents whose kids sometimes drive them nuts, then minutes after making them wonder when bedtime is, want to hug them and tell them they love them. It’s for people who appreciate houses which are manic and crazy and messy and loud but always fun. Really really enjoyable and I can’t wait to get to Ms. Horton’s next book:)
Rating:5/5

 

Cover Reveal! Excess Baggage by Laura Barnard

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Please note the cover image leads to a pre-order link for the book

💙LAURA BARNARD COVER REVEAL & GIVEAWAY!💜

How beautiful is this cover of Laura’s latest romantic comedy, Excess Baggage?  It’s out on the 23rd and you can pre-order now here

Details of giveaway below.

What they say:

Stuck in a dead-end relationship, Erica Bennett finds herself daydreaming of her first holiday romance. She was fifteen, it was exciting, new and full of possibilities…and Jack Lawson was hot as hell. That kind of thing leaves a mark.

So when her friends suggest a girls holiday to Luna Island, it’s exactly what she needs to take her mind off things. What she doesn’t expect is to spot Jack – a much older, hotter version of him – across the hotel lobby.

Their attraction is still there and it isn’t long before sparks fly, but fifteen years is a long time. They aren’t the same people they were back then and besides, it’s only a week, right?

Is it a second chance at something real or will their excess baggage ruin their shot at love after they leave Luna Island?

Buy here

Add it to your Goodreads here

 

GIVEAWAY!

thumbnail_Cover Reveal Giveaway!!

Head on over to Laura’s facebook page to enter her cover reveal giveaway to be in with a chance of winning an ARC of EXCESS BAGGAGE and a £5/$5 Amazon gift card.

Connect with Laura

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3490836.Laura_Barnard

Out Now: See You Later Broadway by Melissa Baldwin @mpbaldwinauthor @HelloChickLit

seeyoulaterbroadwayLength: 337 pages

Please note as always that the cover image leads to an Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: It’s finally here . . . the much-anticipated sequel to See You Soon Broadway! Maris is back!


Decisions, decisions, decisions . . .

Maris Forrester’s exciting new life is not everything she was hoping it would be. Although she’s happy in her new career, she’s plagued with the feeling that something is still missing. Imagine her surprise when an old friend presents her with an unbelievable opportunity that could change everything. This new career sounds almost too good to be true, including the upcoming trip to London. She quickly learns that even the most perfect scenarios have their drawbacks, and when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is . . .

In addition to making a life-changing career choice, Maris realizes she has other decisions to make—whom to love and where to find happiness. What if neither is what she thought they should be?

About the author

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Melissa Baldwin is an avid runner, planner obsessed, and has always had a love for writing. She is a wife, mother, and avid journal keeper who took her creativity to the next level by fulfilling her dream with her debut novel, An Event to Remember…or Forget. Melissa writes about charming, ambitious, and real women and is now a published author of seven Romantic Comedy novels and novellas.

When she isn’t deep in the writing zone, this multi-tasking master organizer is busy spending time with her family, chauffeuring her daughter, traveling, running, indulging in fitness, and taking a Disney Cruise every now and then.

Website

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