A Hogmanay Kiss by Elsie McArthur

Today I’m sharing my final book review for 2020. Thank you to everyone who has read, liked and/or shared my book reviews this year. After being furloughed from work in April, being able to get lost in books and then share my thoughts on here has been a positive activity in a strange year.

I discovered Elsie McArthur’s books back in June, when I read and reviewed The Back Up Plan (https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/06/21/the-back-up-plan-by-elsie-mcarthur/), then I enjoyed reading and reviewing Love, on the Rocks in August (https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/08/21/love-on-the-rocks-elsie-mcarthur/). Elsie kindly sent me a digital review copy of A Hogmanay Kiss, the follow up novella to The Back Up Plan. Here are my thoughts.

Synopsis:

Marsaili and Will’s happily ever after isn’t turning out exactly like they planned…

Eighteen months after getting back together, and struggling to find a forever home in their small Highland community, they’re still living in the upstairs bedroom of Marsaili’s parents’ croft. A chance to get away from it all for a romantic Christmas break is just what they need – Marsaili’s brother is getting married, and they’re going to spend two weeks in Edinburgh for the celebrations.

But when wedding mishaps, a flirtatious bridesmaid and past insecurities threaten to derail their plans, the idyllic festive getaway Marsaili and Will have been dreaming of could make them… or break them.

Reunite with all your favourite characters for a Christmas holiday they’ll never forget, in this fun, feel-good, festive sequel to The Back Up Plan.

My thoughts:

It was lovely to catch up with Marsaili and Will again, to see how their romance had progressed. In a year when many weddings were cancelled, it was lovely to read about the preparations for the wedding and the celebrations on the big day.

With an early arrival, an unkind bridesmaid and many misunderstandings, the ‘holiday’ in Edinburgh had plenty of drama to keep this reader turning the pages. Elsie has created characters you care about and I devoured the book in one sitting. Thank you Elsie for another great virtual visit to Scotland. I look forward to reading more from you in the future.

Author Bio (from Goodreads):

Elsie McArthur is an independent author of women’s fiction. After studying law at university, and then re-training as a primary school teacher, she now lives in the Highlands of Scotland with her husband, two kids, a couple of badly behaved dogs and a cat with a superiority complex. As well as continuing to work part time as a teacher, she is now indulging in her first love of writing. Her first book, ‘The Back Up Plan’, was released in January 2020. 

The Christmas Wish List by Heidi Swain

Today I’m happy to be sharing my mini review for the third Wynbridge novel I’ve read this week by the lovely Heidi Swain, currently 99p on the Kindle.

Synopsis:

After being let go from her job in a swanky hotel just weeks before Christmas, Hattie is feeling lost. Even more so when her high-flying boyfriend announces he’s landed his dream job in Abu Dhabi and asks her to move with him. Luckily, Hattie’s long-time friend Dolly is on hand to help and invites Hattie to spend one last holiday in the small, festive town of Wynbridge, determined to give her a Christmas to remember . . .

Upon Hattie’s arrival, holiday preparations are in full swing. But for Hattie, whose Christmas cheer has long since run out, it’ll take more than mince pies and mistletoe to open her heart to the season once more. Relishing the task of reigniting Hattie’s Christmas spirit, Dolly suggests they create a wish list of all the things the season can offer, and with the helpful hands of Wynbridge’s resident handyman, Beamish, Hattie finds her frosty exterior is starting to thaw.

As Wynbridge prepares for its most spectacular Christmas yet, will Hattie leave snowy England behind for life in a sunnier clime, or will she in fact realise that her heart’s desire lies much closer to home?

My thoughts:

It was lovely to travel back to Wynbridge, to catch up with the characters from previous books and to meet Hattie, Beamish and Dolly. Hattie needs to make a major decision about her life, and her friend Dolly is determined to show her what she would miss if she left the UK. Dolly has a number of reasons for creating the Christmas Wish List with Hattie, and it was lovely to read about a ‘normal Christmas’ after spending an unusually quiet Christmas in 2020.

The book deals with some tough relationship and health issues, but left this reader feeling uplifted and festive. Having worked in a primary school as a teaching assistant when my children were young, it was nice to remember the madness of the Christmas weeks (we had OFSTED turn up one year in the midst of all the fun/glitter/plays/parties). Another lovely book from Heidi Swain.

Christmas Wishes by Sue Moorcroft

Thank you to Avon Books for a digital review copy via NetGalley. Apologies for the delay in reading and reviewing. Here is my mini review of this festive read.

Synopsis:

Hannah and Nico are meant to be together.

But fate is keeping them apart… 

When Hannah bumps into her brother Rob’s best friend Nico in Stockholm, the two rekindle a fast friendship. But Hannah has a boyfriend – and Nico has two children to look after. When Hannah loses her beloved shop in Stockholm, though, she is forced to move back to the little village of Middledip – only to find Nico has just moved in too. Under the same snowy sky, can the childhood friends make a romance work – or are there too many obstacles standing in their way?

A heartwarming story of love, friendship, and Christmas magic, perfect for fans of Trisha Ashley and Jill Mansell.

My thoughts:

This is the third book I’ve read by Sue Moorcroft in the past year and is now my new favourite. Hannah and Nico both face a number of challenges, with work and relationships, but cross paths again when Hannah’s brother gets married. Can they help each other?

My favourite part of the book was the visit to Nico’s family in Sweden. In a year of hardly travelling anywhere, I loved the sound of visiting Sweden to try new foods, make snowmen and visit new places. My favourite character was Hannah’s Nan who wants the best for her granddaughter.

An enjoyable read that is currently 99p on the Kindle in the UK. Happy to recommend this as a book to curl up with over the Christmas holiday.

One More for Christmas by Sarah Morgan

Today I’m sharing a mini review for my weekend read. Thank you HQ for a digital review copy via NetGalley. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the free copy.

Synopsis:

Gayle is a highly successful and motivated business woman, but her success has come at a price – she hasn’t spoken to her daughters, Ella and Samantha, for years. But when Gayle has an accident at work, she realises she needs to make amends with her family.

And so she invites herself to join Ella and Samantha for their Christmas in the beautiful Scottish Highlands. The sisters are none too pleased that their mother has inserted herself into their Christmas plans. They have each other – and don’t need their mother back in their lives. Or so they think…

As they embark on their first family Christmas together in years, will the three women learn that sometimes facing up to a few home truths is all you need to heal your heart?

My thoughts:

As usual, Sarah Morgan has produced a fabulous festive read for readers. There is plenty of family drama for the two families, as the mothers and their adult children learn to communicate their feelings. The story is full of festive treats, including reindeer, sleigh rides, tree decorating and a very excited young child desperate to see Santa.

I enjoyed how the story developed, as the main characters came together to rekindle and improve old relationships or to start new ones. The story covers loss so isn’t all light and fluffy, but is written in a way that you are rooting for the characters and feel uplifted at the end of the book. I would love to spend time in Scotland baking with Mary and meeting the reindeer. A lovely book to escape into.

Author bio:

Sarah Morgan is a USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author of romance and women’s fiction. She has sold over 18 million copies of her books and her work has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and Booklist.

Sarah lives near London, England with her family and when she isn’t writing or reading, she likes to spend time outdoors hiking or riding her mountain bike.  

Join Sarah’s mailing list at http://www.sarahmorgan.com for all book news. For more insight into her writing life follow her on Facebook at http://www.facebook/AuthorSarahMorgan and on Instagram at @sarahmorganwrites Contact Sarah at sarah@sarahmorgan.com

Christmas at the Cornish Confetti Agency by Daisy James

Thank you to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for the invite to enjoy the tour. I enjoyed reading and reviewing Summertime at the Cornish Confetti Agency earlier this year. Thank you for a digital copy of the book, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

It’s Christmas at The Cornish Confetti Agency!

When Lexie Harrington is asked to choreograph Phoebe and Sam’s Christmas-themed wedding, she can’t wait to create the perfect winter wonderland – elegantly dressed fir trees, glossy garlands of holly and mistletoe, baskets of yule logs and pine cones, and the mouth-watering fragrance of gingerbread, cinnamon sticks and warm mulled wine floating through the air.

With handsome wedding columnist-cum-fledgling scriptwriter Theo Barker at her side, she’s confident that she can create the perfect festive ambience the bride and groom have been dreaming of since their engagement in the Swiss Alps; no rampant hosepipes, no mechanical mice, no confetti-filled hairdryers.

But this is The Cornish Confetti Agency, and the words ‘plain-sailing’ and ‘hassle-free’ do not feature in the promotional brochure. So, when a much-loved portrait of the groom’s father is adorned with pirate eye-patches and black plastic moustaches, and his expensive cologne is switched for toilet cleaner, Lexie and Theo must once again don their metaphorical deerstalkers and unravel the mystery before the wedding dissolves into Christmas-themed chaos and calamity.

A perfect Christmas wedding?
Is there such a thing for The Cornish Confetti Agency?

A glittery, feel-good story perfect for the festive season, and the third book in The Cornish Confetti Agency series.

Purchase Links 

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0892GV962

US  – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0892GV962

My thoughts:

I enjoyed curling up with this book on a wet and windy afternoon during the October half term holiday in Wiltshire. I’ve still not managed to visit Cornwall and due to the current global pandemic, don’t see any likelihood of a visit in the next few months. So it was nice to have a virtual visit.

Lexie is organising a wedding AND a Blissful Brides Christmas Extravaganza in the two weeks before Christmas, when life is already busy for many of us. As the synopsis states, Lexie has to discover who is playing jokes on the groom’s father during the hen and stag events before the wedding is spoilt. If you have read the previous Cornish Confetti Agency books, you will remember how Lexie regularly has to save the day.

Much as I enjoyed the wedding run up and the wedding, my favourite part of the book was the Blissful Brides Christmas Extravaganza. This sounded amazing and Lexie had been planning for this since primary school. Of course, nothing is easy or straightforward for Lexie, but the book has a lovely community feel as everyone pulls together to help.

The book includes a mixture of old and new characters, delicious sounding food, a gorgeous dog and a sprinkling of festive snow. I recommend reading with a large mug of hot chocolate and a mince pie (Loved Theo’s mince pie recipe and Christmas baking competition tradition). A cosy Christmas book I’m happy to recommend.

Author Bio:

Daisy James loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. She especially likes to create sunshine-filled settings in exotic locations – the Caribbean, Tuscany, Cornwall, Provence – so she can spend her time envisioning her characters enjoying the fabulous scenery and sampling the local food and drink.

When not scribbling away in her peppermint-and-green summerhouse (garden shed), she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china plates and teacups are a must.

Social Media Links – 

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/daisyjamesbooks

Twitter – https://twitter.com/daisyjamesbooks

Instagram – @daisyjamesbooks

A Surprise Christmas Wedding by Phillipa Ashley

Thank you to Avon Books for providing a digital review copy of this gorgeous book via NetGalley. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. This is published in ebook format on 19th October and in paperback on 26th November 2020.

Synopsis:

It’s been a year since Lottie’s fiancé walked out, leaving her heartbroken. But things start to look up when she lands her dream job at a beautiful Lake District estate, with a handsome groundskeeper for a neighbour.
 
So when Lottie is asked to organise a last minute Christmas wedding at Firholme, she can’t wait to get started. Until she meets the couple, and discovers that Connor, the man who broke her heart, is the groom-to-be.
 
As snow falls on the hills, can Lottie put aside her past to organise the perfect winter wedding? And will there be any festive magic left to bring Lottie the perfect Christmas she deserves?
 

My thoughts:

This is a lovely festive read. Lottie has had a tough year, with a broken engagement and supporting her sister through her cancer treatment. Jay, her new neighbour and work colleague, is also nursing a broken heart.

The story features secrets, half truths, comedy moments, reindeers, Christmas trees, decorations and romance. Will getting to know Jay, and his gorgeous dog, Trevor help Lottie to cope with organising a wedding for her ex? This is a no spoiler review so you will need to read the book to find out.

A lovely story to provide an escape from the stress and anxiety of 2020. I only discovered Phillipa’s books this year (see my review at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/05/29/bookreview-a-perfect-cornish-escape-by-phillipa-ashley/) but have been busy adding more of her books to my Kindle to curl up with over the winter. I recommend enjoying this one with a mug of hot chocolate whilst listening to some Christmas music.

The Little Christmas Shop on Nutcracker Lane by Jaimie Admans

Thank you to HQ Digital for a copy of this gorgeous book via NetGalley. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. I enjoyed reading Jaimie Adman’s previous book, The Little Bookshop of Love stories back in July (see my 5 star review at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/07/11/the-little-bookshop-of-love-stories-by-jaimie-admans/). The ebook is published this week (https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08GS33BGP/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_GZCHFbQ7JYKXD) and the paperback on 10th December 2020.

Synopsis:

Nia Maddison has always believed that wishes come true on Nutcracker Lane. So, when she gets the opportunity to run her own Christmas gift shop on the most magical street in town, it feels like her wishes have been finally granted.

But working late one night, Nia discovers yet another boyfriend has cheated on her. As she trudges home – alone, again – she passes the (supposedly) magical nutcracker and half-joking thinks a wish can’t hurt. Cracking a nut in its mouth, she wishes to find Prince Charming.

The next day Nia gets to work to find another decoration shop has opened directly across the lane from her own, and she can’t resist having a nose around.

Whilst there, she accidentally backs into a human-sized Nutcracker, knocking it over and breaking it. Mortified, she flees from the store but when she gathers her resolve to go back and apologise, she stumbles across the gorgeous shop owner James, who looks exactly like Prince Charming…

Could her Christmas wish from the night before really be coming true?

My thoughts:

I have to admit that after reading the first couple of chapters, that I thought I wouldn’t enjoy this book as much as the Little Bookshop of Love Stories. However, something magical happened and this quickly became my favourite Christmas book of 2020.

Nia and James are so different, one loves everything to do with Christmas, whilst the other loathes Christmas. However, after literally bumping into each other, they need to work together to bring back the magic of Christmas to Nutcracker Lane.

I loved how Jaimie has crammed so many Christmas traditions into one story – the food, the sweets, the decorations, the board games, the Christmas Carols and the mistletoe. In 2020, when many of us will have to forgo our normal traditions due to the social distancing rules, this book brought the magic of a non Covid Christmas to life.

If you would love to escape for a few hours, then grab a copy of this fabulous festive and romantic read, a big mug of hot chocolate, some peppermint creams and a festive blanket as soon as possible.

A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan

A Wedding in December

A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Blurb from Amazon:

In the snowy perfection of Aspen, the White family gathers for youngest daughter Rosie’s whirlwind Christmas wedding.

First to arrive are the bride’s parents, Maggie and Nick. Their daughter’s marriage is a milestone they are determined to celebrate wholeheartedly, but they are hiding a huge secret about their own: they are on the brink of divorce. After living apart for the last six months, the last thing they need is to be trapped together in an irresistibly romantic winter wonderland.

Rosie’s older sister Katie is also dreading the wedding. Worried that impulsive, sweet-hearted Rosie is making a mistake, Katie is determined to save her sister from herself. If only the irritatingly good-looking best man, Jordan, would stop interfering with her plans…

Bride-to-be Rosie loves her fiance but is having serious second thoughts. Except everyone has arrived – how can she tell them she’s not sure? As the big day gets closer, and emotions run even higher, this is one White family Christmas none of them will ever forget.

My thoughts:

This book was my start of half term treat to myself – a relaxing read (although some sad issues are covered).

The main characters, Maggie, Katie and Rosie are a mother and her daughters, getting ready for the wedding of Rosie in snowy Colorado. As a mum of two teenagers, I found myself relating to Maggie – how often is a mum will be known as ‘mum of’ or ‘wife of’.

This book was a ‘do not put me down’ romantic story and I’m glad I had picked a quiet day to enjoy it.

So grab a blanket and a hot chocolate, ignore the bad weather outside and enjoy this festive romance.

Thanks to NetGalley and HQ books for a digital ARC – my thoughts are my own.



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