These Violent Nights by Rebecca Crunden (Review)

These Violent Nights by Rebecca Crunden

Blurb

Once upon a time, inhabitants of another world tore a hole through the universe and came to Earth. They called themselves Suriias, and rivalled humans in knowledge and skill with one great exception: they had magic.

War followed. Humanity lost. And three hundred years later, humans are on the brink of extinction.

Orphans Thorn and Thistle live in hiding. They are the last of their families, the last of their friends. They scrape by, stealing to survive and living on the streets or hiding in sheds. But even under the brutal regime of the Suriias, there are places where humans can mingle in secret with magical sympathisers, and one night Thistle gets an unexpected offer of marriage from a Suriia with high standing and friends in all the right places. For Thistle, it’s a chance at safety and comfort; for Thorn, it’s a chance to find the ones who killed her parents.

And so the pair move into the capital city of Courtenz. An urban monstrosity of magic and might, false friends and flying cars, drones and death tolls, the new city promises a fresh start – and new love – for both. 

But if there’s one thing Thorn knows for certain, it’s that dreams can swiftly turn into nightmares.

Review

Firstly, a massive thank you to Rebecca Crunden for gifting me a copy of her wonderful book These Violent Nights in exchange for an honest review.

This is rather a substantial book and I was a bit worried about the size of the book when I first started reading it because I struggled to get into it to start with. However, thankfully I kept reading because I was soon hooked and was pleased at the size of the book because I did not want to leave the characters and finish the book. 

Thistle and Thorn are humans who live in hiding from the Suriias who are magical beings from another world. Thistle and Thorn have a very sad past and this has left both of them scarred both emotionally and physically. When Nithin who is a Suriia proposes to Thistle, Thistle and Thorn move in with Nithin and his best friend Kol. Thistle is overjoyed to be safe and living in wealth and comfort but Thorn only sees it as an access to find the murderer of her parents.

I really felt sorry for Thorn during this book. She is forced to live with the very species she fears and hates and even though Nithin and Kol support humans and are fighting for the humans’ rights Thorn struggles to trust and believe them. At the same time Thorn sees her best friend slowly slip away from her and change. Thorn feels alone and angry with everything and no matter how much Kol tries to help her she still resists. I completely agree with the character Lucien who says that Thorn has never had a chance to breathe. 

Thistle annoyed me and made me rather angry at times because she hurt Thorn so much. Yes, Thistle wanted to start living life and enjoy her new found freedom and wealth but she forgot her best friend at times and didn’t see just how much Thorn was suffering.

I loved the concept of this book and I loved how in the end humans and Suriia had to work together and overcome each species’ difficulties. I also loved the different romances that occurred within the book and how they crossed species. This book was brilliant and I will definitely be reading more books by Rebecca Crunden. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

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(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

Katheryn Howard: The Tainted Queen by Alison Weir (Review)

Katheryn Howard: The Tainted Queen by Alison Weir

Blurb

A naive girl, thrust forward by her ambitious family. A pretty girl, who has captured the heart of the King. Katheryn sings, she dances, she delights in the pleasures of being queen. The King tells the world she is his rose without a thorn.

But this young woman has a past of which Henry knows nothing. It comes back increasingly to haunt her, even as she courts danger yet again. For those who gather roses must beware of the thorns.

Review

I started reading this and could not put it down, thankfully I had handed in my latest assignment as I would have been thoroughly distracted. Alison Weir really does keep producing some amazing books and they seem to be getting better and better. 

Katheryn Howard is Henry VIII’s fifth wife and one who was used by her family and did not  remain Henry’s wife for long. Katheryn lost her mother at an early age and was then passed from one relation to another until she reached the household of her Grandam. The household of her Grandam contains many young women and these young women lack morals and soon Katheryn is following their example and also taking it further. 

When Katheryn serves Anna of Kleve she catches the King’s eye and so her uncle the Duke of Norfolk and her Grandam take advantage of this and make sure that the King only has eyes for Katheryn. 

Katheryn has lacked guidance and makes some naive decisions before she is married and sadly these come back to haunt her when she is married to Henry. Henry loves and adores Katheryn and will do anything for her happiness and Katheryn finds herself very happy whilst married to him but also she lives in constant fear.

Katheryn was basically a very naive and silly young woman who knew the risks but lived in a world of delusion where she thought she wouldn’t be found out and she was wrongly used by her family and those she trusted. 

I always felt sorry for Katheryn because if she had had better guidance as a child and teenager I believe she wouldn’t have made the decisions that she did but sadly she might still have been used by her family. Weir really builds a wonderful picture of Katheryn’s life and even though I know her story well I could not stop reading to see what happened next. I did want to shake Katheryn at times and tell her to grow up but this didn’t affect the love I have for this book. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Alison Weir was born in 1951 and is a British writer of history books, and latterly historical novels, mostly in the form of biographies about British Royalty.

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Nights by Carole Matthews (Review)

Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Nights by Carole Matthews

Blurb

Fay and Danny are madly in love and it’s all Fay’s ever dreamed of. But she left everything – including the delightful cake shop she used to run – to be with Danny on his cosy canal boat The Dreamcatcher. And as she soon finds out, making delicious cakes on the water isn’t always smooth sailing!

Then Fay gets a call from her friends, a call that sends her back to her friends and the Cake Shop in the Garden. It will be hard being away from Danny but their relationship is strong enough to survive . . . isn’t it?

Fay soon falls happily back in love with her passion for baking – especially now she’s on dry land again! – and starts to wonder if she ever should have left. With Christmas around the corner, Fay is determined that her friends will have a very merry time, but does that mean even more time away from Danny? Can Fay really get everything she ever wanted in Christmas Cakes & Mistletoe Nights.

Review

I actually bought this book last year but I didn’t get around to reading it so I dug it out for my Christmas reading list this year and I am so pleased I did.

This is the first book I have read by Matthews and it won’t be my last, I also didn’t realise that this book is a sequel so I will be buying the first book in the New Year as I really want to read about how these characters came together.

Fay and Danny are a lovely couple and I will be honest Danny has the patience and kindness of a saint and will do anything to please Fay, which includes looking after her friends and putting up with her sister. Fay is a very caring character who almost feels too much for everyone and at times I do wish she would perhaps say no.

My absolute favourite character is Lija. Lija is grumpy and prickly but she really does have a heart of gold and her swearing is very funny at times. Rainbow is also a lovely character but she can be extremely annoying at times.

Then there is Stan and Stan is a character that you can’t help but adore. He really is a perfect gentleman.

Fay rushes back to her friends Lija and Stan when Stan becomes ill and Danny follows shortly afterwards with their canalboat and there is where the story begins. Fay now helps Lija run the cake shop and helps Stan to get better all with Danny helping and supporting where he can.

I truly loved this story but I will be honest I was expecting a bit more baking involved as most of the story is set in the kitchen of the cake shop. I can’t wait to read more about Fay and Danny and give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Book Depository | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Carole Matthews born 1960 is a British author. Matthews has published 34 novels and currently lives in Milton Keynes with her husband.

A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan (Review)

A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan

Blurb

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. 

Review

This book centres around three main characters Rosie, Katie and Maggie and each chapter is based on one of these characters and shows the story from their perspective and it really does work brilliantly because you get to see how their lives intertwine and how they are also separate. The other thing I loved about this book was the descriptions of Aspen. It sounds so perfect and made me desperately want to visit in the winter to see the snow.

Katie and Rosie are sisters and Maggie is their mother who has always been there for her two daughters no matter what. Katie has her own personal problems but she prefers to interfere with her sister Rosie’s wedding than deal with her own problems and I must admit Katie did drive me a bit insane. She was altogether a bit too much for me and was a character I would have shouted at more than once.

Rosie is adorable, she is kind and loving but also really needs to stand up for herself so when she occasionally does in the book I always did a little jump for joy. Rosie and Dan are having a whirlwind romance and are getting married and Dan’s mother Catherine is organising all of it very last minute. I kind of liked Catherine but at the same time I did find her a bit pushy with everything and I really felt sorry for Maggie with it all.

Maggie and Nick have been living apart for ages and have not told their daughters and they are also on the brink of divorce. I really enjoyed reading about these two characters and it was wonderful to see the two of them grow and learn about each other.

The thing I loved about this book the most was seeing how the characters all grew and developed all of which they couldn’t have done without being together. It really was a lovely story if rather annoying in places. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

About the author

USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes romance and contemporary women’s fiction and her trademark humour and warmth have gained her fans across the globe. Sarah lives near London, England, and when she isn’t reading or writing she loves being outdoors.

A Perfect Cornish Christmas by Phillipa Ashley (Review)

A Perfect Cornish Christmas by Phillipa Ashley

Blurb

Christmas in Cornwall is just around the corner…

But after last Christmas revealed a shocking family secret, Scarlett’s hardly feeling merry and bright. All she wants this Christmas is to know who her real father is.

So Scarlett heads to the little Cornish town of Porthmellow, where she believes the truth of her birth is hidden. She just didn’t bargain on being drawn into the Christmas festival preparations – or meeting Jude Penberth, whose charm threatens to complicate life further.

Everything will come to a head at Porthmellow’s Christmas Festival … But can Scarlett have the perfect Christmas this year, or are there more surprises on the way?

Review

I read another Ashley Christmas novel last year and thoroughly enjoyed it so I was pleased to find this book equally enjoyable if not more. I will also be honest and say that I lost quite a bit of sleep with this book because I couldn’t put it down. 

The story opens with a family Christmas that ends with a bombshell that has repercussions for all the family. Then the story moves to just before the next Christmas and how Scarlett and her sister Ellie prepare for a very different Christmas in Cornwall. 

Ellie is a lovely character and although she appears to be a bit of a wild child due to spending so much time travelling around the world she is a solid character who works hard and will do anything for her sister Scarlett. I couldn’t help but love Ellie’s character and want the best for her.

Scarlett is the main character of the story and she is very lost and desperately needs answers so she gives up her life in Birmingham and moves to Porthmellow to live with her sister Ellie in their great aunt’s old manor house where she hopes to find the answers she so desperately craves. 

There are some great characters in this book and some hilarious innuendos that really made me chuckle. There are several storylines in this book and they all link together beautifully. There are love stories past and present, affairs and family problems and a few surprises thrown into the mix as well. I loved the atmosphere of Porthmellow and the Solstice festival appeared perfectly idyllic and I now really want to go to one myself. 

Ashley has written a wonderful book that is full of beautiful descriptions, criss crossing storylines and characters that you can’t help but love. This book really put me into the festive mood and I am so pleased I read it and I will definitely be reading some of Ashely’s non-chrirstmas books next year. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons and highly recommend it to everyone who wants a festive read over Christmas.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Born in 1971 in Lichfield, Phillipa Ashley is an award winning author of 17 novels under 3 different pen names.

Sonnets by William Shakespeare (Review)

Sonnets by William Shakespeare 

Blurb

‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate . . .’ Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets contain some of the most exquisite and haunting poetry ever written, dealing with eternal themes such as love and infidelity, memory and mortality, and the destruction wreaked by time. This new edition collects them in a pocket-sized volume, perfect for gifting. William Shakespeare was born some time in late April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon and died in 1616. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist.

Review

I’ve read some of Shakespeare’s sonnets in the past as our Drama teacher used to make us memorise them and then recite them on stage but that was a long time ago. So being as I am trying to read all of Shakespeare’s works I decided to read his sonnets next.

This little book has been perfect to dip into when I have a few minutes free and I will be honest I have been reading it when waiting for my next student to appear on Zoom. 

I really enjoyed reading this little book and although the sonnets are mainly love sonnets there are also sonnets on the seasons and other things. Some are a bit similar in my opinion but they are still enjoyable to read and really show the talent of Shakespeare.

A highly recommended little edition that literally just gives you the sonnets and is perfect to just dip in and out of when the mood takes you. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons and I will leave you with one of my favourites.

116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments; love is not love

Which alters when alteration finds, 

Or bands with the remover to remove.

O no, it is an ever-fixed mark

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wandering bark,

Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle’s compass come;

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved,

I never writ, nor to man ever loved.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor. He is widely known as the greatest writer in the English language and is often called England’s national poet and the “Bard of Avon”.

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary (Review)

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

About the author

Beth studied English at university before going into children’s publishing. She lives as close to the countryside as she can get while still being within reach of London, and wrote her first novel, The Flatshare, on her train journey to and from work.

You’ll usually find her curled up with a book, a cup of tea, and several woolly jumpers (whatever the weather).

Blurb

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast.

Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash.

Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly-imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

Review

This book was recommended to me by my best friend and so I bought a copy as soon as I could and I am so pleased I did. I started reading this book and read a bit a day until I got about a quarter of the way through and then I just could not put it down and I binged the whole book in one afternoon.

The book is told from Tiffy’s and Leon’s perspective and it is really interesting seeing their different perspectives. Leon is very shy who needs quiet and alone time to process things but Tiffy is the complete opposite: she has to talk to her friends to process things and thrives on noise and people.

Tiffy and Leon communicate via post-it notes that they post all over the flat and through this method of communication they get to know each other and they also help each other through their troubles. Tiffy has problems which revolve around her ex-boyfriend but with Leon and her friends’ help she is working through these problems.

Leon also has problems of his own in the fact that his brother is in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Leon is a palliative care nurse who spends all his time trying to help and care for everyone.

This novel deals with some difficult issues but O’Leary writes about this in a sensitive and realistic manner and is very respectful. This novel was a big surprise to me as I was expecting something a lot more light hearted and chick lit read but in fact it had depth and understanding. O’Leary is a talented writer and I really look forward to reading more of her books. I rate this book 5 out of 5 Dragons.

Purchase Links

Book DepositoryWaterstonesWordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you)

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The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (Review)

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

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About the author

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Madeline Miller was born in Boston and grew up in New York City and Philadelphia. She attended Brown University, where she earned her BA and MA in Classics. For the last ten years she has been teaching and tutoring Latin, Greek and Shakespeare to high school students. She has also studied at the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, and in the Dramaturgy department at Yale School of Drama, where she focused on the adaptation of classical texts to modern forms. She currently lives in Cambridge, MA, where she teaches and writes. The Song of Achilles is her first novel.

Blurb

Greece in the age of Heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is nobody, just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles.

Achilles, ‘best of all the Greeks’, is everything Patroclus is not — strong, beautiful, the child of a goddess — and by all rights their paths should never cross. Yet one day, Achilles takes the shamed prince under his wing and soon their tentative companionship gives way to a steadfast friendship. As they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something far deeper — despite the displeasure of Achilles’s mother Thetis, a cruel and deathly pale sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.

Fate is never far from the heels of Achilles. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate.

Review

I have heard great things about this book and so when lockdown began I ordered it so I could read it during lockdown and I must admit when I started reading it I couldn’t put it down.

This modern retelling of Homer’s Iliad is a wonderful love story that is full of magic and wonder. Patroclus is the complete opposite to Achilles. He is not strong, or talented in battle. He is not a typical Greek warrior and has never really been understood by the people around him, especially his father. Due to this I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Patroclus and I kept feeling sorry for him because through this story he always suffered in one way or another. However, what Patroclus was, was brave, loving, strong and a fierce friend, you could not ask for a more loyal man.

Achilles was his usual annoying self, he drives me mad in the Iliad and he drove me mad in this book. Achilles is a spoilt brat who is definitely a son of a god and because of this he has a massive chip on his shoulder. The one thing I did pity Achilles about is that he knows his fate and there is no mystery about his future. I find it hard to imagine living knowing exactly what will happen to you, it must be enough to drive you mad.

I absolutely loved this book and I can see people not from a classics background reading this book and falling in love with the mythology of ancient Greece. I highly recommend this book to everyone who likes historical fiction or a love of the classics. I loved the style of writing that Madeline Miller has and I can’t wait to read more of her books. I have given this book 5 out of 5 Dragons.

Purchase Links

 Book DepositoryWaterstones

 

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Emma by Jane Austen (Review)

Emma by Jane Austen

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About the author

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Jane Austen born 16th December 1775 died 18th July 1817 was an English novelist known for her six major novels. Austen’s novels are known for social comedy and accurate depiction of human relationships.

Blurb

Emma Woodhouse is one of Austen’s most captivating and vivid characters. Beautiful, spoilt, vain and irrepressibly witty, Emma organises the lives of the inhabitants of her sleepy little village and plays matchmaker with devastating effect.

Review

This is a reread for me and thankfully a better read than when I first read it in 2002. I must admit when I first read Emma I swore never to read it again as I really did not enjoy the book. However, this year I plan on giving some books another chance and this was the first one on the list. In 2002 I rated this book 2 out of 5 stars.

I really enjoyed reading this book for about the first third of the book but I must admit the middle did drive me a little insane. It comes across as long winded and rather overly written and I must admit I just wanted it to get to the happy ending.

The second time of reading I felt rather differently about the characters, I still disliked the Elton’s greatly and found Frank Churchill a spoilt brat who should never have been forgiven for his awful behaviour. Mrs Bates I felt very sorry for living in ever increasing poverty and with a daughter who means well but does not give anyone a moment’s peace. Miss Bates’ dialogues I will be honest I skipped over in places because they just made me cringe.

Mr Woodhouse bless him was more of an old fuss pot than I remembered but he made me smile. Emma was her annoying vain self but thankfully Mr Knightley as usual rescued the situation. Harriet I found very endearing this time and it was nice to see her journey through the book.

I must admit I enjoyed Emma but my rating has only increased slightly to 3 out of 5 Dragons. I will be watching the new film adaptation this year to see if it beats my favourite  adaptation starring Gwyneth Paltrow. Still my least favourite Austen novel but I do not hate it and would read it again.

Purchase links

Waterstones

Book Depository

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A Very Country Christmas by Zara Stoneley (Review)

A Very Country Christmas by Zara Stoneley

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About the author

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Zara Stoneley is the USA Today bestselling author of The Wedding Date.

Born in a small village in the UK, she wanted to be a female James Herriot, a spy, or an author when she grew up. After many (many) years, and many different jobs, her dream of writing a bestseller came true.

She writes about friendship, dreams, love, and happy ever afters, and hopes that her tales make you laugh a lot, cry a little, and occasionally say ‘ahhh’.

Zara now lives in a Cheshire village with her family

Blurb

A short Christmas story of three courses.

Love is in the air in Tippermere as Lottie dreams of a white Christmas with no trimmings – other than her hot and hunky eventer, Rory. But things are never quite that simple on the Tipping House Estate.

Festive fervour takes over and it isn’t all seasonal peace and goodwill as expectations rise and it soon escalates from cosy dinner for two, to all the trimmings for ten!

With missing turkeys, loose horses, troublesome terriers and randy huntsmen, Lottie is hard pushed to find time for a kiss under the mistletoe, let alone find the opportunity to woo Rory with her sexy Santa costume.

But there is only one thing Lottie really wants for Christmas, and only one man can deliver it…

Review

This was a lovely little freebie off Apple Books and I read it in a day so it was a nice quick read.

The first thing I liked about this story was the setting, immediately it seemed to me to be the idyllic Christmas setting. There was a mansion, a stable yard and a cosy little flat overlooking a stables, oh and a country pub you can walk to. Sounds perfect to me!

The main character in the story was Lottie and I must admit she is very brave inviting so many to Christmas Dinner and offering to cook it all. Her partner Rory is obviously a very patient man because he does not bat an eyelid when he finds out how many people she has invited when it was meant to be just the two of them. However, Lottie is very trusting in my opinion, considering the texts Rory gets from young beautiful women!

There are funny bits in this story, romantic moments and drama and it will definitely make you giggle. The only thing that spoilt it for me and the reason it did not get the full 5 Dragons was the use of the bad language which I found unnecessary and a character description at the beginning. I really do not like character descriptions, I like to discover the characters for myself.

This is a real feel good book and perfect for the festive season. I will definitely be looking at the other Tippermere books because I really want to read about the characters a bit more.

 

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