Christmas at the Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Publishing Date: 20th October 2016
Series: White Cliff Bay #1
Source: Received from the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!
Number of pages: 368
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction
Snow is falling on the charming seaside town of White Cliff bay, where Christmas is magical and love is in the air . . .
Penny Meadows loves her cosy cottage with its stunning views over the town of White Cliff Bay and her job as an ice-carver, creating breathtaking sculptures. Yet her personal life seems frozen.
When Henry and daughter Daisy arrive at the cottage to rent the annex, Penny is determined to make them feel welcome. But while Daisy is friendly, Henry seems guarded.
As Penny gets to know Henry, she realises there is more to him than meets the eye. And the connection between them is too strong to ignore . . .
While the preparations for the ice sculpting competition and Christmas Eve ball are in full swing, will Penny be able to melt the ice and allow love into her heart? And will this finally be the perfect Christmas she’s been dreaming of?
I love Holly Martin and her stories, it’s probably not a secret, and I always wait impatiently for her new releases. They are always full of sparks, humour, gentle moments, with characters to die for – and “Christmas at Lilac Cottage” was not exception! You may not be sure of many things, but you can be sure of one: that Holly always delivers. What always brings tears to my eyes are Holly’s dedications – she never forgets about us, bloggers, and she always says her thank you in such beautiful words, and it always makes me feel sentimental. Really, really appreciated Holly!
I think everything about Holly’s writing and stories was already told, also by yours, truly 🙂 Holly can write incredibly romantic, but modern stories that go straight to my heart, stories that leave me satisfied and content. I don’t know how she does it, really, that I fell in love with all of her books, without exceptions. You know, when I read a new novel by one of my favourite authors I am usually scared if this time the author is going to deliver, if they are going to fulfil my expectations, but to be honest, when starting Holly’s new book, I’m not scared about this, because I am sure it is going to be her next cracker.
However, this time I have one “but”. Here I had a feeling that I “have been there, have seen this”. The setting of this little town, the sweet, cosy cottage, the job Penny had – carving in ice – even the characters – the main ones, and the supporting ones, the villagers – this all was like a repetition of “Beneath the Moon and the Stars” – can you remember? I have nothing against it, because it was a nice story, but I’d expect something more, something fresh from Holly. She has proved to be a brilliant author whose imagination knows no limits, so I truly expected more from this novel. I adored it, there is no discussion to it, please do not take me wrong, I just felt that I’ve already read this story before.
The story telling was, as usual, brilliant, warm and hooking, and the plot, even though not the most surprising, was fast paced, nevertheless I missed this unexpected twists and turns that are Holly’s brand already, and this incredible humour – it was a funny story, and it was full of this characteristic, belly – aching – laughing moments, but on the whole I wanted more of them – Holly got me used to have them on almost every single page, and in “Christmas at Lilac Cottage” those moments were seldom – apart of few of them, when I was literally snorting and laughing out loud, usually they involved Penny and Daisy and sex, it was a normal story kept on the same level.
But that’s just me. Don’t pay any attention 🙂 And other than that, I absolutely loved this story and I still think it deserves those 5 stars! I totally adored how the chapters were divided between Penny and Henry, and they were telling us their both point of views and thoughts on the same situation – it was mostly hilarious, and Holly brilliantly captured the differences in male and female’s thinking – you know, men are from Mars, women are from Venus. Loved it!
The storytelling was exceptional, and so Holly – characteristic. Holly has this talent to over – exaggerate a little, to add a little drama here and there, and yet the story doesn’t feel too pushed, or too forced, it’s not over the top. She also always brings the places to life, with her incredibly rich descriptions – they are really so vivid that I have no problems to picture it all in my mind. I have felt truly festive, reading about the snow falling over the place, decorating the Christmas tree, and could feel the warmth of the fire burning. Also, there is always this lovely, brilliant sense of community between Holly’s characters, and it was the same in White Cliff Bay, with all the characters jumping to help when necessary (well, of course not always to help. Sometimes to meddle and complicate things, too).
What’s more, Holly’s characters are exceptional. To tell that they feel like real people would be an understatement, really – they ARE real people, with all their flaws and imperfections, problems and moods and jumping to conclusions. I had a feeling that any time they’re going to pop out of the pages and give me the biggest hug in the world. Penny was like a whirlwind of warm emotions and love, and it was impossible not to feel her excitement or sadness through the pages. She was so bouncy, bubbly and full of life and I hated to see her hurt. At the beginning Henry seemed to be a grumpy person but deep, deep inside he was sooo lovely, and no wonder Penny was attracted to him – I was as well! Holly is also the Queen of sparks flying between the characters, she can write the tension and chemistry in such a good way and make it feel so realistic, and it was the same here, and this “will they/won’t they” made it even more genuine.
So yes, Holly can make it happen – make you forget about the whole world and your duties and responsibilities. This story was full of action and events, there was not a single second flat, because Holly manages to squeeze a lot between the covers of this book: single parenthood, starting in a new place, coming to terms with a horrible past, learning to trust other people, and this all was told with so much empathy and with understanding, without judging. And I felt so comfortable with Penny and Henry. The story just flowed so well and was full to the brim with this wonderful, Holly – like, feel – good factor. “Christmas at Lilac Cottage” is really sweet, charming, sparkling with snow festive read, but I am sure reading it in summer would be as enjoyable as in winter. I highly recommend this heart – warming, lovely story!