The Blurb

Megan McAllister is home for Christmas…whether she likes it or not!

Christmas is about family…and for Megan, family means two people: herself, and her daughter Skye. It doesn’t mean her parents who, ten years ago, saw her pregnancy as anything but a miracle. And it definitely doesn’t include her irresistible ex-boyfriend Lucas Bright.

So ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ has never been top of Megan’s festive playlist. But for Skye, she knows she needs to spend the holiday season with the people she’s left behind. She can do this. Even if the thought of meeting Lucas under the mistletoe still has her feeling like she’s drunk one-too-many Snowballs!

But somewhere between the hanging of stockings and the crackle of wrapping paper, Christmas starts to sparkle. And Megan begins to wonder if family could be bigger than her and Skye after all…

Pop the buck’s fizz, stoke the fire and prepare to giggle the festive season away with AL Michael!

The Review

Oh poor Megan McAllister. Megan is the black sheep of her family. The golden child who blew it all away by becoming a gymslip mum; extradited by her family, she has spent the last 11 years living in exile with her aunt. Yet at the wishes of said aunt, she finally returns home to her family in the little village where everyone knows everyone’s business. Needless to say, this may not be the merriest Christmas for Megan and her daughter Skye.

My initial reason for reading Driving Home for Christmas was that I had one more pre-Christmas review slot for my book blog that needed filling. I will admit, I didn’t read the blurb and I didn’t think to myself ‘Ooh, this sounds good.’ Reading Driving Home for Christmas, I realised what a serendipitous thing it was that I chose this very book to read because, dear reader, it is bloody fantastic.

I loved it!

It was a classic story of a young girl with so much hope and promise that ended up barefoot and pregnant whilst still a child herself. Yet, it was so much more. It was about success and growing up and about lost love and about mending fences. The story was so multifaceted that you couldn’t help but feel engrossed by the story line.

Furthermore, AL Michael has created a rather wonderful romantic lead; one that has you questioning ‘why weren’t the boys like that when I was in high school?’

Driving Home for Christmas is the third book that I have read that was written by AL Michael and I have enjoyed them all immensely. I’m grateful that I have found another author that I can trust to release a damn good book. Driving Home for Christmas was a wonderful read and the perfect book to end my Christmas feature.

Driving Home for Christmas by AL Michael is available now.

Follow AL Michael (@ALMichael_) on Twitter.

The Blurb

At thirty, Claudia’s life is stale and the romance with long-term boyfriend, Seth, has disappeared. Determined to inject some festive spark back into their love life, Claudia and Seth go on their first date in a very long time. But when the night ends in disaster, Claudia suddenly finds herself facing life – and Christmas – alone.

Life alone is exciting, scary and full of soon-forgotten exercise regimes and ill-advised attempts at crafting sexy underwear. It’s also filling up with dates, surprisingly. With best friends Penny and Nick at her side, a surplus of festival markets, mulled wine and Christmas tunes, Claudia attempts to face all this change with gusto. One thing’s for certain: this year, Christmas is going to be very different.

This is the story of Claudia and her twelve dates of Christmas. Hilarious, uplifting and romantic, it’s a story about losing love, finding love, and discovering what’s been there all along. Expect Christmas sparkle, butterflies-in-your-stomach romance and a lot of very funny moments in The Twelve Dates of Christmas.

The Review

Oh the path of true love never runs smoothly, does it? Especially not for the self-destructive heroine of The Twelve Dates of Christmas, Claudia; when Claudia and long term boyfriend Seth split up just before Christmas (what is it about Christmas that it seems to go hand in hand with heartbreak) she realises that she has just been existing and not living. Well no more, Claudia is dusting off the cobwebs from her life and giving herself a kick up the backside.

One part of her life that really needs a boost is her love life; after several interesting (coughs – disastrous- coughs) dates, Penny realises with whom her heart really lies and sets out on trying to make things happen.

The Twelve Dates of Christmas is a pure unadulterated will-they-won’t-they love story that pulls dramatically at the heartstrings and has you screaming my favourite saying at the characters – “Kiss her/him, you fool!” It is one of those brilliant books that sucks you right in and has you thinking about the characters, what they should do and how they are feeling long after you (begrudgingly) put the book down.

Our protagonist Claudia really has the ability to pull at your heartstrings; she seems to constantly lose the things that she loves – first of all, dancing. Due to an injury a few years earlier, she is no longer eligible to be the prima ballerina that she always longed to be and when opportunities in the dancing field come her way she shies away from them – through fear? Possibly. It seems that she can’t allow herself to be near the things she loves because she destroys them. Maybe I am reading too much into her character but this is the overall impression that I got of Claudia. Mainly I wanted to give her a good shake and tell her to pull it together. However, it is the simple flaws that made her human and loveable.

What Dickenson has done rather well is that she has created a “well fanciable” hero. The love interest for Claudia is swoons-worthy. Is it wrong to fancy fictional characters? Ah well, who cares. All I know is that The Twelve Dates of Christmas is a great book, with great characters and will make a great gift for your loved ones this Christmas.

Twelve Dates of Christmas by Lisa Dickenson is available now.

Follow Lisa Dickenson (@LisaWritesStuff) on Twitter.

Title: A Vintage Christmas

Author: Trisha Ashley

Pages: 54 Pages

The Blurb

Lucy is so excited to announce she’s getting married this Christmas. She’s picturing a small, simple wedding in the village hall. Her dream is to stand in her vintage dress next to a great, big Christmas tree with all her close friends and relatives…

But Lucy’s mother thinks differently! She’s been saving all her life for her little girl’s big day. And she wants to see it done properly. But Christmas is far too soon…the list on her clipboard can’t possibly be ticked off in just a few months!

And then there’s the mother-in-law to contend with. She hasn’t quite forgiven her son for proposing to the local riff-raff. She certainly won’t approve of this little charity shop wedding. And now even Lucy’s fiancé is starting to disagree with her vision….

But Christmas is a time when miracles happen. And if Lucy wishes hard enough, Santa might just bring her the wedding of her dreams…

The Review

A Vintage Christmas is a short sweet story about a happy couple trying to get married on their own terms. Lucy and Matt want a simple vintage wedding; the kind that people had during the war – when pickings were slim and life was simple. However, she has two things stopping this dream becoming a reality – her mother and his mother.

Lucy’s mum has been saving to give Lucy the most lavish of weddings; big cake, meringue dress, luscious venue. The absolute antithesis of what Lucy wants. Her mother is well meaning but Lucy wants to rein control over the grandiose plans. Matt’s mother is a different kettle of fish. She believes that he is marrying beneath him and will do anything to stop her darling boy from marrying Lucy (whom she refers to as a ‘gold digger’.)

A Vintage Christmas is a simple story about the constraints and pressures felt by couples before they get married. Is it there day or is it a day for their respective families? Ashley has created a cute little world that she manages to develop and explore in such a small amount of pages that it is really impressive.

For me, the one downside is that I don’t really feel that I got to know Matt or Lucy enough to really root for them. I mean, obviously I didn’t want the wedding to be stopped but there wasn’t enough time for me to fall in love with the characters. I think this would have happened had there been more sustainable conflict. However, with page and word limit constraints I can understand why these areas were not included.

Overall, A Vintage Christmas is an easy, lovely, and quick read; one that could be done on a commute to and from work.

A Vintage Christmas by Trisha Ashley

For more information about Trisha Ashley please visit trishaashley.com and follow Trisha Ashley (@trishaashley) on Twitter.

The Blurb

‘Tis the season to be jolly. Unless you’ve found an intimate picture of another woman on your fiance’s phone…

Eve is heartbroken after discovering her fiance is cheating on her. Being surrounded by the joys of Christmas is more than Eve can bear, so she chooses to avoid the festivities by spending Christmas alone on a houseboat in Pangbourne. Eve gets gets an unexpected seasonal surprise when handsome local vet Greg comes to her rescue one day, and continues to visit Eve’s boat on a mission to transform her from Kitchen Disaster Zone to Culinary Queen.

But where does Greg keep disappearing to? What does Eve’s best friend Daisy know that she isn’t telling? And why is there an angry goose stalking Eve’s boat?

A hilarious and heart-warming novel about Christmas, catastrophes and cooking, containing exclusive Christmas recipes, from the talented Rosie Blake.

The Review

Rosie Blake’s Christmas novel How to Stuff Up Christmas is delightful. Let me just get that out of the way. I. Loved. It!

The story is about Eve; a broken hearted woman who is facing her first Christmas alone since she found out that her ex-fiance had been cheating on her. It is difficult. Rather than facing Christmas head on she decides to run away; not literally, she is a grown woman after all. She decided to pretend Christmas isn’t happening and instead has started a course and moved onto a houseboat.

Some may think that this is a bit extreme but meh. We have all been there. I know that I have. You see, that is what is really great about How to Stuff Up Christmas; the situation and the heartache that Eve is facing is real. It feels real and most of us have been there.

Eve is essentially mending her broken heart. She has been scorned and has all this hatred for a faceless enemy and she cannot resolve her feelings. Enter Greg. Ahhh Greg. Everyone who has ever faced heartache should have a Greg. Greg is the local vet and quite by chance he and Eve develop a friendship.

All great love stories start there.

Essentially, Rosie Blake’s How to Stuff Up Christmas is about healing. It is about how the old adages ‘time is a great healer’ and ‘the best way to get over somebody is to…(well you get the picture)’ are true. You cannot help but fall in love with Blake’s cast of characters and her unfortunately well-to-known-in-real-life storyline.

How to Stuff Up Christmas is a warm, lovely festive read that will melt your frost tipped fingers. Buy it, read it and enjoy it. That is an order.

How to Stuff Up Christmas by Rosie Blake

Follow Rosie Blake (@RosieBBooks) on Twitter.

The Blurb

Hazel never set out to be a wedding planner. She was just helping her stressed sister Lila with cakes and décor for her big day. But when Lila and Ollie’s summer ceremony is a runaway success, with guests raving about the food and styling at the pretty venue, word about Hazel’s expertise soon spreads.

But Hazel’s clients expect the very best – she’s promised lawyers Gemma and Eliot a snow-covered castle in the Scottish Highlands, and laidback couple Josh and Sarah a bohemian beach wedding in a Caribbean paradise. But as weather, in-laws and wilful brides conspire against her, can Hazel get two very different couples to walk up two very different aisles to say ‘I do’? And will she find her own happy ending if she does?

The Review

Having only ever read one book by Abby Clements before, I was unsure what to expect from The Winter Wedding. The last book I read was a short story and it was that long ago that I read it that I can’t remember much about it (sorry!). I needn’t have worried.

The Winter Wedding is, like most romantic fiction, a story of relationships. Clements not only focuses on romantic relationships but familial and working relationships too. The working relationships are shown through the cutthroat media industry and how main character Hazel is victim to her boss’s whims; the romantic relationships come in many forms: Lila and Ollie, Eliot and Gemma; mix Josh, Sam, Amber and Hazel in the mix it almost becomes a recipe for romantic disaster. However, for me, the strongest showing of relationship was the one between Lila and Hazel; twin sisters who haven’t grown apart but have grown up. It was so refreshing to see such a strong connection between two female characters.

It is also a story of figuring out who you are. Your late twenties are a minefield of being pigeonholed into tick boxes. Married? Check. Mortgage? Check. Children? Check. Not everyone has it all figured out yet; the fact that Hazel is in the exact same position made her very easy to relate to.

The Winter Wedding was a really lovely read. It wasn’t taxing or an agonising read; it was a genuine pleasure to just sit down and pick up a book that I felt so comfortable to be a part of.

Well done, Abby Clements.

The Winter Wedding by Abby Clements is available now.

Follow Abby Clements (@AbbyCBooks) on Twitter.