If We’re Not Married by Thirty by Anna Bell

If We’re Not Married by Thirty by Anna Bell

 

40376037Publisher: Zaffre

Publishing Date: 27th December 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 431

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A brilliantly funny, romantic and effervescent read, If We’re Not Married by Thirty is the irresistible new novel from the bestselling author of The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart and It Started With a Tweet. For fans of Lindsey Kelk and Sophie Kinsella.

Lydia’s not exactly #LivingHerBestLife. She never imagined she’d be here at thirty – newly single, a job that’s going nowhere and her friends all winning at life when she’s still barely taking part. So she jumps at the chance of a free holiday and jets off to sunny Spain.

Then, out of the blue, she bumps into her childhood friend, the handsome and charming Danny Whittaker. She’s always had a crush on him and they soon enter into a passionate holiday romance.

But this relationship could be more than just a fling. Years ago they made a pact that if they were still single when they turned thirty they would get married. But noone really follows through on these pacts . . . right?

Could Lydia’s back-up man really be her happy ever after?

Rating: four-stars

Ten years ago, at her sister’s wedding, Lydia made a pact with Danny that if they’re not married by they’re thirty, they will simply marry each other. Forward ten years on, and Lydia, an event – coordinator, finds herself newly single. She hasn’t seen Danny in a while but they stayed in touch via letters and emails. However, a chance encounter brings them together – they’re both thirty, both single – will they go through with their pact?

I liked the fact that the characters used to know each other for ages, what with their mothers being best friends. It saved us the whole getting to know each other phase, and they felt so comfortable around each other. I immediately warmed to Lydia, she was my kind of girl. She felt a little disappointed with her life, as she felt that everyone is moving around and ahead with their lives, only she’s staying put. She was pretty relaxed and down – to – earth, and what I liked so much is the fact that she was surrounded by her family and friends, they were all going strong together. She relied on them, they relied on her and they were supporting each other, and it was lovely to see. She, as well as the other characters, was relatable and full of flaws, she wanted a better life but she wasn’t so quick to change it, to take matters in her own hands, which – let’s be honest – is a totally normal thing. How often does it happen that we’re not happy with our own lives but as they’re comfortable enough we do nothing to change them. Lydia said the wrong things, put herself in embarrassing situations and this all made her much more human and likeable.
But, to be honest, I had awful problem with Danny. All the time I had a feeling that he’s hiding something, that I can’t trust him completely, that he’s going to hurt Lydia, that he’s not honest. Also, instead of “when will they eventually” I was wondering if they will/they will not – I simply was missing this last tick, this last final touch that would convince me completely to the fact that Lydia and Danny were truly destined for each other.
The best parts of the books were when the mothers were entering the scenes. Though, as much as I loved them, I am very grateful they’re not my mother, phew. Don’t get me wrong, they were absolutely brilliant, they always meant well but they were slightly… embarrassing. But they were also incredibly funny and I loved their antics. Those two were best friends and they were rooting for their children to finally get together but, of course, as it usually happens, in trying to achieve this, they usually made things much more difficult, and I adored how stoic Lydia and Danny were about them. Hazel and Linda weren’t afraid of anything, their friendship was simply brilliant.

The banter and interactions between Lydia and Danny were great, you could see the sparks flying. However, I’ve missed a little more depth to this relationship to be honest. We can also wonder here and dispute if people really still make such pacts as the main characters but that’s not the point. The point is that it worked in this book and it made for an amusing, funny and entertaining read. There were plenty of hilarious and embarrassing scenes and Anna Bell’s writing style is so seamless, she effortlessly transports us into the characters’ world, you really feel like a part of the book.

I had some problems to get into the book, the beginning, even though the scenes were supposed to be funny, simply didn’t sit with me, and it made me feel uncomfortable, because hell, it is Anna Bell’s book! What’s that supposed to mean? But as soon as Lydia arrived to Spain the book gathered its pace and from then on it was a roller – coaster ride of more or less embarrassing situations – Lydia was truly prone to accident or to jump to false conclusions, which was often hilarious.

It was incredibly light – hearted, engaging and amusing read. There weren’t any life changing twists but I also haven’t expected them in this book. The standard misunderstandings, the ups and downs, hiccups and some challenges on the way were really enough to make the reading interesting and me glued to the pages. Altogether, I’ve enjoyed this book a lot, there was everything I could expect from Anna Bell’s novel and I am already looking toward her next release. In the meantime, I really recommend “If We’re Not Married by Thirty” to you.

 

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The Rumour by Lesley Kara

The Rumour by Lesley Kara

 

40898147Publisher: Bantam Press

Publishing Date: 27th December 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher via netGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery & Thriller

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A casual comment.

There’s a killer among us.

That’s all it takes.

She stabbed little Robbie Harris.

To change a life –

She’s living under a new name.

For ever.

She’s reformed. So they say . . .

Joanna is going to regret the day she ever said a word.

‘In this chilling tale of paranoia, suspicion and accusation, Lesley Kara keeps you guessing until the final page.’ Paula Hawkins, No.1 bestselling author of The Girl on the Train and Into the Water

‘A great debut with a slyly clever premise and a rollercoaster ride to the very last sentence.’ Fiona Barton, bestselling author of The Widow and The Child.

Rating: four-stars

“The Rumour” introduces us to Joanna, a single mother of six – year – old Alfie, back to her hometown, where she has moved to be closer to her mum and to give her son another start after he was being bullied at school in London. In her efforts to integrate with the school gates’ mums she passes on a rumour that a previous child killer is living in the town, amongst all of them, under a new identity. What she doesn’t expect is for the rumour to take a life of its own, to spread like a wildfire, pointing its fingers of suspicion at everyone and bringing danger on herself and little Alfie.

The characters in this book were really well developed. Joanna’s actions were realistic and I liked how down – to – earth she was. She was able to sacrifice a lot for her son Alfie who, being of mixed race, has been ostracised at school. That’s why she decided to become a part of the school – gates’ mothers’ group, although she was perfectly happy without them, and this is how all the troubles started, to be honest. She soon wished she had kept her mouth shut, and it’s not a wonder, as she herself, and we, together with her, find ourselves lost in a maze full of lies, secrets and danger.

I was trying to guess, of course I was, who the person is and if she’s really at the town. I didn’t buy the main suspect but I also didn’t guess the right person, till the very last moment. I, in fact, guessed it at the same time as Joanna, so it’s really telling something – how well the author has pulled wool over my eyes, how easily she played with my mind, and I loved this fact. There were many characters mentioned in this book, and it was sometimes confusing who is who and if they’re really important for the plot, especially the book club and the school mothers and their families, and this only made the whole thing much more complicated, as you had a whole range of the suspected.

Now. Perhaps some of you are not going to agree with what I’m going to say now but I, to be absolutely honest, totally got the character of Sally. I understand the other side, an awful tragedy has happened but Sally was a child then, right? Somehow, from the descriptions of her, I couldn’t understand that she’s done it with poise, deliberately. In my eyes, she has also deserved sympathy. I, of course, could have think totally differently if I was on the other side, if I was a member of the little boy’s family. However, Sally turned out to be a perfectly normal adult woman – I don’t want to write more about her circumstances, as I don’t want to spoil the reading for you, so let’s stop here, but let me just tell you that in my opinion she deserved her second chance and live her life in peace. Although, on the other hand, can we really talk about living life in peace, when there is always a danger of being identified, haunted and hunted, with cutting ties with everything and everybody, being moved to new places, not being able to put down some roots anywhere. On the other hand, how disturbing can it be, the thought that a convicted child killer is living a normal life, perhaps somewhere close to you?

“The Rumour” was an engrossing and engaging book with many twists and turns. It was an addictive, tense and very realistic read. It was really well plotted and the ending didn’t jump at me as unexpected, yet it was surprising but in a positive way. You know how sometimes the authors end the book with a huge twist that should blow you away but only make it unrealistic – here the twist was absolutely realistic and relatable, possible to happen. It was an extremely well debut novel, intense and clever. It was fast – paced, with short chapters and filled with suspense and the overwhelming feeling that something bad is going to happen. It was dark, but not too dark, and the author has brilliantly captured the atmosphere of the small town and of the uncertainty. This book touched upon many issues, such as punishment, being unable to forgive, revenge, crime and how dangerous rumours can be, how quickly they can ruin everything. Recommended!

 

A Year at Castle Court by Holly Hepburn

A Year at Castle Court by Holly Hepburn

 

39859029Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 27th December 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 480

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The brand new novel from bestselling author Holly Hepburn, perfect for anyone who loves Jenny Colgan, Veronica Henry and Lucy Diamond.

Sadie is a single mum, nursing a broken heart. Her best friend from childhood, Cat, is burned out from working long hours as a chef in Paris. In need of a change, they decide to invest in their dream – running their own handmade biscuit shop in gorgeous Castle Court, a three-storey food court tucked away behind Chester’s bustling streets.

They soon discover that Castle Court has its own community – a little haven of delight against the stresses of the outside world. But not everyone welcomes the new business; the patisserie owner is less than pleased by what she sees as direct competition and Greg, who runs the fancy bistro that dominates one end of the courtyard, doesn’t think Sadie and Cat have the talent or business acumen to succeed. Luckily, there’s support in the form of the delectable Jaren, who owns the Dutch waffle house opposite Smart Cookies, and Swiss chocolate-shop owner, Elin. And if all else fails, the friends can drown their sorrows in Seb‘s cocktail bar on the third floor!

Rating: four-stars

In “A Year at Castle Court” two main characters, best friends Cat and Sadie, make their dream of owning and running a business together come true and start “Smart Cookies”, a shop specialising in selling hand – made biscuits. However, not all of the other businesses at Castle Court welcome them with open arms. There is a secret scandal, an almost ex – husband and many other troubles and challenges on the girls’ way to happiness.

I loved the friendship between Cat and Sadie, with all its ups and downs, supporting each other but also with the little conflicts, which only made it feel more realistic. They were both strong women and life was not a bed of roses for them. However, I think that I could relate more to Sadie, no particular reason why, just because. I wanted to give her a standing ovation for the way she has proceeded with the situation with her husband, not immediately jumping at the chance and making her life comfortable again, oh no, she’d rather followed her intuition and decided to give it time, which, let’s be honest, doesn’t happen often, right? Cat and Sadie were going from strength to strength, deciding to set up their own business, overcoming the reluctance of some of the neighbours from the close – knit community of Castle Court, and generally dealing with many, many challenges that life decided to face them with. They were strong and independent and I liked that they didn’t look for a man at any cost, that they were ambitious but also they weren’t afraid to ask for help when they needed it, and in the end their successes were their own.

The setting in this book was simply brilliant. I adored Castle Court, with all the little shops and businesses, and as much as I’d love to stop there by, it would be dangerous for my shape. As opposed to many, many other books where the characters open either a bakery or make cupcakes, Sadie and Cat specialise in biscuits, wonderfully decorated biscuits. I have to admit, after reading the book, I’ve spent a lot of time watching blogs or films on YouTube and incredibly admiring the art of icing. The things people can create, it’s simply amazing, and Sadie was exactly like that. Now I can even better imagine all those little wonders that she concocted, although they were of course so vividly described by the author – the colours, the ideas, it was simply fabulous and delicious.

The thing that didn’t sit so well with me was the fact that all the twists were solved in few sentences, at least in the same chapter. I like when there is a little tension and not knowing what’s going to happen, when the events stretch out through the story. I understand that the book was initially published as a four – parts series so probably it needed the quick action, but in a full – length story it just simply doesn’t work so well for me. And there were moments that I really missed the plot to develop, just like with the restaurant next door for example and the way the character just got away with it – it was as if the author simply didn’t have an idea how to continue this thread, which is a pity to be honest.

The story is full of little dramas, that usually happened so quickly and unexpectedly, keeping the pace aloft but also small wins and successes. You could really say that it was action packed and the characters have more than enough on their plates, and sometimes I simply couldn’t stop thinking, oh no, not this, please let them take a breath! Altogether, “A Year at Castle Court” was a lovely story about having confidence and courage and not giving up. It was a light – hearted read and I really enjoyed reading about the close – knit community, about the friendship and the dramas. Holly Hepburn’s writing style is so bright and optimistic, eloquent and colourful and it’s a joy to read her books, so I can only recommend this book to you – go an treat yourself!

 

Christmas at the Beach Hut by Veronica Henry

Christmas at the Beach Hut by Veronica Henry

 

40917823Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 15th November 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 368

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

When Lizzy writes her annual Round Robin to send out with her Christmas cards, she realises it’s all about the rest of her family. Fed up and exhausted by yet another year of singlehandedly trying to make it a perfect Christmas, Lizzy takes a pile of books, her cosiest clothes and the Ocado order and escapes to a beach hut on the North Devon coast. This year, Christmas is going to be all about her.

Meanwhile, the other inhabitants in the beach huts are trying to escape Christmas too. But somehow, the spirit of Christmas wheedles its way back into everyone’s hearts and Lizzy is at the centre of the activity. By Christmas day there are fairy lights strung up round the beach hut and a turkey roasting on the barbecue!

So when Lizzy’s family track her down, just how will they convince her she means the world to them – every day of the year?

Rating: three-stars

Lizzy loves her family and her home. However this year, shortly before Christmas, she starts to realize that they… well, they take her for granted. she’s always there for them but they don’t respect her wishes and think only about themselves. So she decides to take matters on her own hands and decides to leave. Not for good, oh no, only for Christmas, to think things over and figure out why she isn’t happy any more. She flees to Everdene, where her friend has a beach hut where she can spend her time on her own – right?

The chapters changed between different points of view. Lizzy is actually our main character and I liked her from the very beginning. I could totally get her frustration and her need to just flee after years of taking care of everyone else and putting her own needs behind. She was so relatable, and the way she wasn’t sure what to do next, her feelings and emotions were so easily brought to life by the author. Hats off to Lizzie for doing what she did, it takes for sure tons of courage to make such a step. She was such a great wife and mother but she didn’t feel appreciated, and no wonder, as she was really take for granted.
But the novel also tells us about Harley and Jack who, as well as Lizzy, want to escape Christmas. They all have their own personal reasons for this and believe me guys when I tell you that their stories are poignant and heart – breaking. You will understand those reasons and fell for them quickly. The author seamlessly and effortlessly allows us into the characters’ heads, how gradually we learn about them, about what make them tick, about their background and histories and start to understand them.

The beach hut was so welcoming, and it was a perfect place to stay – I loved the descriptions of it, it really felt as if it was a place where you could forget about all your troubles and problems and I would love to have a possibility to escape there as well.

I was a little afraid to start reading this book as it is the next to “The Beach Hut” and “The Beach Hut Next Door”, both of which I have yet to read, but I can easily reassure you now, after reading it, that it is a perfect stand – alone novel. However, this book didn’t wow me as much as I think it would. There was nothing particularly wrong with it, it was a perfectly nice read, it was probably the last finish touch that I missed. It also felt too slow and there weren’t really many turns and twists. It took a long time for all the threads to come together and there were too many characters with name that started with “H” – Hal, Hayley and I think there was another one, Hattie, and I was confused for a long time before I finally started to tell them apart.

But altogether, it was a very enjoyable book about family, putting yourself first at least but not forgetting about other people, about courage and priorities. Although it is not my favourite by this author, I’d still recommend it to you if you’re looking for a relaxing and relatable read and it is for sure a book that can’t be missing on your Christmas wish – list or reading pile if you’re Veronica Henry’s fan. It touched upon many different issues, some of them more difficult and heavier than the others: mental abuse, grief, taking for granted. Veronica Henry has way with words, she’s a brilliant storyteller and her writing style is easy to follow, light and inviting. It was a heart – warming, poignant, full of emotions escapism, full of stories and characters that are true to life and relatable.

 

Cuckoo by Sophie Draper / Blog Tour

Cuckoo by Sophie Draper

 

41061962Publisher: Avon

Publishing Date: 29th November 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 297

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

’Spooky and absorbing. I was gripped from the first page!’ CASS GREEN

There’s a stranger in your house…

When her stepmother dies unexpectedly, Caro returns to her childhood home in Derbyshire. She hadn’t seen Elizabeth in years, but the remote farmhouse offers refuge from a bad relationship, and a chance to start again.

But going through Elizabeth’s belongings unearths memories Caro would rather stay buried. In particular, the story her stepmother would tell her, about two little girls and the terrible thing they do.

As heavy snow traps Caro in the village, where her neighbours stare and whisper, Caro is forced to question why Elizabeth hated her so much, and what she was hiding. But does she really want to uncover the truth?

A haunting and twisty story about the lies we tell those closest to us, perfect for fans of Ruth Ware and Cass Green.

my-review

Caro, after the death of her mother and then father, has been raised by her stepmother. They’ve never seen eye to eye, so when after her death Caro finds out that she – together with her sister with whom she had grown apart – has inherited the house, she’s surprised. Even more so when her sister relinquishes the inheritance. Recently separated from a boyfriend, and with job as an illustrator that she can do everywhere, Caro decides to take on the task of clearing the house out, while waiting for the probate to clear. Soon strange things begin to happen at the house, and Caro starts to ask herself what’s happening. She also finds things that she doesn’t remember from her childhood, photos and different things that make her start to wonder why can’t she remember so much from her childhood? Why did Elizabeth hate her so much?

The author managed to capture the creepy, chilling atmosphere however there was no tension for me. It started in a great way, intriguing and full of questions, the odd things happening at the house Caro was staying at were intriguing at the beginning but quickly it dramatically slowed down, the things started to feel repetitive and not so dramatic, and yes, the author’s writing is very descriptive and vivid but I could live without reading about every single detail of the house, or the town – there was no progress to the story. And so I started to skim – reading: firstly because the pace was much too slow for my liking, and secondly, because I desperately wanted to arrive at the final twist that so many of the reviewers rave about. And when it happened… Well, guys, what shall I say, I’ve guessed it already long ago. I was of course hoping till the last moment that it wouldn’t finish in such obvious way, but well, it did.

I couldn’t put my finger on the main character. I suppose I should have compassion with her, fell for her but I simply couldn’t understand her actions. She seemed to be very naive and to make every mistake possible, and to make any bad choice possible. Yes, usually characters that have flaws feel much more realistic but not Caro, and moreover, she didn’t learn by her own mistakes. While sometimes it could make you, the reader, feel compassion, maybe understanding, for me it was just frustrating. She never tried to overcome her problems and fear, she just went with the flow, agreeing to everything that was happening in her life. Laptop suddenly gone? Oh well, it simply happens, right? The end left me thinking if Carol really did get her “happy end” or if she was too gullible to see the real intensions of Craig, or what were his intentions, to be honest.

The setting of the house, creepy, old and solitary, out of a small town, with unfriendly neighbours, in the middle of winter, snowed in couldn’t be better. But the potential in this simply hasn’t been taken.

It’s not that I didn’t like this book but I also didn’t love it. There was a great potential to it and it pained me to see that it wasn’t utilised. The turns and twists were there, and the author tried to make them unpredictable and unique. There is the constant feeling of isolation and that something is going to happen which is necessary in this kind of books. I think that the problem is with me, and I’m guessing that if I haven’t been reading so many books in this genre, I’d enjoyed “Cuckoo” much more. So if you’re into a slow – paced creepy story about abused and neglected child, about family secrets, about hate and revenge with a ting of gothic to it simply try this novel.

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25 Days ’til Christmas by Poppy Alexander / Blog Tour

25 Days ’til Christmas by Poppy Alexander

 

cover150320-mediumPublisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 1st November 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

Christmas is a time to get together…

Kate Thompson used to love Christmas. But that was before her husband went away with the army and didn’t come home. Now she can hardly stand the festive season.

But Kate knows there is more to life than this, and her son Jack needs a Christmas to remember. What she needs is a Christmas miracle, and if there isn’t one on its way, she’ll just have to make her own.

So begins Kate’s advent countdown to the best Christmas ever. She has it all planned out, but you can’t plan for the unexpected, and when her life starts to unravel can her friends and the community around her help her save Christmas for all of them…?

Curl up and countdown to Christmas with a heart-warming festive romance, perfect for fans of Jenny Colgan, Debbie Johnson, and Holly Martin.

Rating: five-stars

Kate Thompson hates Christmas, since her husband was killed four years ago during his service abroad as a soldier. However, her son Jack is desperate to have a lovely Christmas, with a tree and presents. Kate, struggling financially and emotionally, doesn’t know what to do and how to do this. She’s stuck at a low paid job, now she must also sell Christmas trees dressed as an elf and freezing and is not sure what the future is going to bring. Her friend comes up with an idea of doing a special advent calendar with a festive activity to do together for every day in the countdown to Christmas.
Daniel is not looking towards Christmas after the death of his sister. He used to buy Christmas trees from Kate and he knows only as Christmas tree girl. They start to bump into each other more and more and soon realises there is much more to Kate than meets the eye. But Kate’s life is really complicated – can she cope? Will she cope? Can somebody help her?

Kate was a great leading character – there were so many challenges on her way, her life was so demanding and yet she more than often put others above herself. Struggling with money, with being a single mum, she was a realistic, genuine character. It was beautiful and also heart – breaking to see how much she tried to organize the unforgettable Christmas for her son and how far she’s go to guard him. The idea of Kate creating the advent calendar for Jack and making the time so special for her and her little boy was brilliant. The Christmassy things that they were supposed to do in the countdown to Christmas were so nice and so different to everything that we’re used to, and now I really feel like preparing something like this for my family.

The pace in this story was just spot on, and there were many things happening, and the book itself brings together threads of different characters. The chapters are more or less a countdown to Christmas – it is a second book in the last weeks that I’ve read written this way, though they were both absolutely different in style and voice but this way worked great in both of them. I loved how it shows that Christmas is not only about commerce and presents but about what it really is that counts – family, friendship, helping each other, appreciating what we have. It was a real rollercoaster journey, full of ups and downs, filled with feelings and emotions. It tugs at all the right heart – strings, it’s this kind of book that’ll make you smile and cry, that is poignant and uplifting. The author has in such a gentle, subtle way dealt with so many tough and heavy issues and there was the overwhelming festive spirit. She has touched upon different things, some of which I don’t often read about, and it was truly great, thought – provoking and eye – opening. Poppy Alexander is for sure an author to have on your radar, I’m already waiting for her next offering. Highly recommended!

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A Winter Kiss on Rochester Mews by Annie Darling

A Winter Kiss on Rochester Mews by Annie Darling

 

 

40540663Publisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 29th November 2018

Series: Lonely Hearts Bookshop #4

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 416

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

A heartwarming and hilarious Christmas romance!

Tis the season to be jolly!

But on Rochester Mews, two unlikely lovebirds are struggling to find their festive cheer.

Star baker Mattie has hated Christmas ever since she had her heart broken on Christmas Eve. The only thing she hates more is the insufferable Tom, who has rubbed her up the wrong way since she started running the tearoom next door to his bookshop. So when Mattie and Tom are left in charge in the frantic festive days before Christmas, it might be cold outside but things are sure to heat up.

Can a bookshop full of romantic novels, a life-sized reindeer and a mistletoe kissing booth persuade two scrooges to fall in love with Christmas… and each other?

Rating: five-stars

In “A Winter Kiss on Rochester Mews” we’re back to Happy Ever After, the best romantic fiction bookshop in the world, and to the adjoining tearoom run by Mattie Smith, a very talented patisserie chef. She’s been running it for two years already, after coming back from Paris – heartbroken and disappointed and badly judged. This all happened around Christmas, so it’s not a wonder that she’s not the biggest fan of the festive season. Or men. Tom Greer still works in the bookshop, wearing cardigans with patches on the elbows, and the only thing that he has in common with Mattie is the fact that he also hates Christmas. Other than that, it seems that they rub each other only the wrong way. But after Nina moving out from the flat above the bookshop, Mattie and Tom become flatmates – how is it going to end?

There are so many things happening in the bookstore and at the tearoom! Posy is heavily pregnant and ready to cry at any given moment, Nina is back at the shop and is determined to bring the festive atmosphere there, and so with the reindeers in their original size, mistletoe photo booth it slowly starts to look like “Christmas vomited over it”, which for Tom and Mattie, both total anti – Christmas, is at least one common ground to complain.

This time the story focuses strongly on Tom, the enigmatic and enigma – like member of Happy Ever After team who hates romance, and Mattie, who always wears black, runs the tearooms by the bookshop and hates all man. Again, those two, as well as the rest of the gang, and they’re all mentioned in the book, hallelujah, they were just my kind of characters – believable in the way they were, with their ups and down, secrets and troubles, with days that were sometimes better and sometimes worse and their banter, and you know, it is often that you want to bang the characters heads together for them to see the light eventually – and I didn’t want to bang their heads together! They were simply brilliant as they were. Although, I must admit, there was a moment that I felt so sorry for Mattie, when she was blanked out by the others after revealing Tom’s secrets, and I mean, they all – Posy, Verity and Nina, all wanted to know them, right, and then Tom also blanking her out and it was just soooo unfair.
I love how all the characters have their own stories to tell. Mattie’s heart was badly broken in the past and the return of her ex – boyfriend Steven doesn’t bode well. Tom, the very modern feminist, was so full of surprises and well, he always meant really well, even though it might not have looked like this at the first sight. The way those two were starting to find each other in this very complicated and uncomfortable arrangement of living in the same flat above the bookshop was absolutely sweet, hilarious and uplifting. Annie Darling, just like Debbie Johnson, can so brilliantly write about feelings and emotions, they’re so beautifully captured and they simply sound genuine and honest.

I’ve finished reading this book grinning from ear to ear, there was so much joy and optimism here, it really made me feel better and lighter. It was a delight to read and it was almost as good as the first book in the series, “.The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts” though, to be honest again, it is probably one of the most gorgeous novels in the world and of all time. I really could read more about the Lonely Hearts Bookshop, it’s one of my absolutely favourite series, and I so hope to see more from the characters in the future, though guys, to be totally honest, the last sentence in this book looks like the very final one, sniff.

Altogether, this book was a perfect read – I loved every single moment of it. It was full of fantastic characters that are down – to – earth and brilliantly funny and comic moments, but it also touched upon some heavier issues. There was the Christmas spirit, bookshop full of romance books and mouth – watering festive baking – I don’t need anything more! Highly recommended!