BLOG TOUR! - Snowflakes on Silver Cove by Holly Martin


Title - Snowflakes on Silver Cover
Author - Holly Martin
Publication Date - October 30th 2015
Publisher - Bookouture
Series - White Cliff Bay (#2)
Format - Kindle Edition (Provided via NetGalley)
Pages - 294

Libby Joseph is famous for her romantic Christmas stories. Every December, readers devour her books of falling in love against the magical backdrop of the Christmas season. If only Libby believed in the magic herself...

Struggling to finish her current novel, Libby turns to her best friend and neighbour George Donaldson to cheer her up. But George also needs a bit of support himself. Nervous about getting back into the dating saddle after splitting from his wife, he and Libby strike a deal. She will teach George how to win over the ladies, and Libby will in turn be inspired to inject her novel with a good dose of romance.

As Libby and George explore the beautiful White Cliff Bay on a series of romantic Christmas-themed dates, Libby finds herself having more fun than she's had in ages and... discovers feelings that she never knew she had for George. 

But is it too late? Will George win someone else's heart or can Libby act like the heroine in one of her stories and reach for her own love under the mistletoe this Christmas?

Snuggle up with a piece of Christmas cake and mulled wine, and spend the festive season at White Cliff Bay. You won't want to leave!

My oh my. I'm sure I've said this exact same thing in my previous reviews of Holly Martin's novels, but she just keeps getting better and better with each book. I've recently read and reviewed Christmas at Lilac Cottage, so I couldn't wait to disappear into the second White Cliff Bay story which, just in case you weren't aware, takes place during the exact same week as the first. Although these two books are linked, I'm sure you could read each as a standalone without worrying about missing something previously. That's the magic of Holly Martin, you can be sure that you'll never miss a thing!

In a nutshell, Snowflakes on Silver Cove follows the story of Libby Joseph and George Donaldson. Best-friends, closer than close, the bond between Holly's heroine and hero was just beautiful. Throughout the telling of this story, we're witness to Libby attempting to find that all-important inspiration to finish her novel, and to George figuring out how to get back into the dating saddle after his marriage sadly fell apart. Along with gorgeous companionship, friendship and a togetherness that cannot be matched, I think Holly Martin told this story beautifully, and her characters, as they so often are, were people I could know and love pretty spectacularly in real life.

One of the aspects that I thoroughly enjoyed about Snowflakes on Silver Cove was that, despite the main thread of this novel following Libby and George's story, we're also introduced to a handful of secondary characters too. Even though some of these characters don't spend so much of their time in the narrative limelight, I felt that what Holly provided me with in regards to them, small details of their pasts and from their dialogue, was enough for me to appreciate their presence in the plot. Alongside those characters, a second thread followed Seb and Amy's story which had it all. The romance, the emotion, the difficulties in finding a safe-place for their relationship to happen. All of these characters were sensational, their separate stories intriguing and deliciously satisfying!

The main thread running between Libby and George was the one that won my heart over completely though. I'm beginning to wonder if perhaps Holly Martin is swiftly becoming a romance queen? I mean, she just gets it spot-on every single time. The swooning, the adorable hero, the moments of tenderness, the moments of passion... She does it all, and in such an effective way too. I don't think I've ever finished one of Martin's novels without feeling like I could burst from the feeling her stories provide me with! Warmth, snuggly satisfaction, and sheer happiness and joy! I also absolutely adored that Libby wrote novels for a living, romance novels that is. I myself love to read and write so I was able to liken myself to Libby immediately. Having been on the move for so long, Libby has never thought about settling down somewhere permanently, but her friendship with George becomes stronger than ever when it becomes decided that, to help her find inspiration for her novels, and to help George out when it comes to dating, Libby will assist him. They head out on practice dates together, laugh and joke and smile, and Holly created moments that I would have loved to have been in myself. I was also drawn to George quickly. his vulnerability and beautiful nature winning me over from the get-go and I wanted nothing more than for his confidence to be given a boost, which Libby did so perfectly!

In terms of setting, White Cliff Bay is the place to be this Christmas, there is no doubt about it. You see snow-globes with New York and Paris within, but what I'd really love to see is a snow-globe hiding the beauty of White Cliff Bay. It really wouldn't look out of place with glitter and snow falling down. With the pub and the ocean and the people of the town, I was completely enveloped within the goings-on taking place, and was thrilled when I saw mentions of Penny and Henry from Holly's first book in the series Christmas at Lilac Cottage

Overall, I utterly adored Snowflakes on Silver Cove by Holly Martin. It captivated me, drew me in, held me under its magical spell and left me feeling as if I'd just stepped out of a winter wonderland, the fairy-tale sort. With sleigh-rides and ice-carving, this is one novel you do not want to miss out on this festive season!

Becca's Books is awarding Snowflakes on Silver Cove by Holly Martin with FIVE GORGEOUS CUPCAKES! This author, and the gorgeous characters and settings she creates, are an ultimate favourite of mine, and by the way things are looking, she will continue to be exactly that for a very long time yet.



Holly lives in sunny Bedforshire in a house with round windows. She studied media at university which led to a very glitzy career as a hotel receptionist followed by an even more glamorous two years working in a bank. The moment that one of her colleagues received the much coveted carriage clock for fifteen years' service was the moment when she knew she had to escape. She quit her job and returned to university to train to be a teacher. Three years later, she emerged wide eyed and terrified that she now had responsibility for the development of thirty young minds. She taught for four years and then escaped the classroom to teach history workshops, dressing up as a Viking one day and an Egyptian High Priestess the next. But the long journeys around the UK and many hours sat on the M25 gave her a lot of time to plan out her stories and she now writes full time, doing what she loves. 

Holly has been writing for 6 years. She was shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance. Her short story won the Sunlounger competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology. She won the Carina Valentine's competition at the Festival of Romance 2013 with her novel The Guestbook. She was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read, Best eBook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction at the Festival of Romance 2014.

You can find Holly Martin on Facebook | Twitter | hollymartin.wordpress.com
You can find Snowflakes on Silver Cove on -




  








BLOG TOUR! - The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin

Today on Becca's Books, I'm thrilled to be shouting about my stop on the blog tour for Rebecca Raisin's latest novel The Little Bookshop on the Seine. For my stop, I'll be sharing Rebecca Raisin's Top 5 foodie things to try in Paris, as well as an extract from the book for your bookish pleasure! Enjoy, lovelies!


Title - The Little Bookshop on the Seine
Author - Rebecca Raisin
Publication Date - October 16th 2015
Publisher - Carina UK
Format - Kindle Edition

La Vie En Rose

Bookshop owner Sarah Smith has been offered the opportunity to exchange bookshops with her new Parisian friend for 6 months! And saying yes is a no-brainer - after all, what kind of a romantic would turn down a trip to Paris... for Christmas?

Even if it does mean leaving the irresistible Ridge Warner behind, Sarah's sure she's in for the holiday of a lifetime - complete with all the books she can read!

Imagining days in Shakespeare & Co, munching on croissants, sipping cafe au laits and watching the snow fall on the Champs-Elysees Sarah boards the plane.

But will her dream of a Parisian Happily-Ever-After come true? Or will Sarah realise that the dream of a Christmas fairytale in the city of love isn't quite as rosy in reality...

A deliciously feel-good Christmas romance perfect for fans of Debbie Johnson and Julia Williams.

Top 5 foodie things to try in Paris ~

Laduree!
The home of the famous macron! They've been making these little pieces of perfection for over 150 years! It's as much as a sightseeing stop as it is a place to chomp away on the sweet treats!

Steak Tartare!
It might be a little, well, raw, but it's what the locals eat and seem to get a great deal of delight from! Okay, I will admit I made Ash order it and just watched him suffer through what would have made a mighty finger burger patty if it had been cooked!

Croque Monsieur!
A very fancy toasted ham and cheese sandwich but you haven’t had one like this until you try the French version layered with a creamy béchamel sauce, seriously party-in-my-mouth food!

Baked Camembert! 
Let’s be honest, the cheeses in France are the best in the world, how can they be any better? I know…crumb and deep fry a round of camembert, and serve with a tangy fruity sauce. Seriously. The. Best.

Twice Cooked Cheese Soufflés! 
I might be harping on about the cheese thing, but this takes the prize for OMG-iddness, if there is such an expression. Do yourself a favour and hunt out a bistro that makes these! You can try to recreate at home, but they won’t ever be the same! 


My email pinged and I dashed over to see who it was from. That’s how exciting my life was sans Ridge, an email was enough to make me almost run, and that was saying a lot. I only ran if chocolate was involved, and even then it was more a fast walk.
Sales@littlebookshop.fr
Sophie, a dear Parisian friend. She owned Once Upon a Time, a famous bookshop by the bank of the Seine. We’d become confidantes since connecting on my book blog a while back, and shared our joys and sorrows about bookshop life. She was charming and sweet, and adored books as much as me, believing them to be portable magic, and a balm for souls.
I clicked open the email and read.
Ma Chérie,
I cannot stay one more day in Paris. You see, Manu has not so much broken my heart, rather pulled it out of my chest and stomped on it. The days are interminable and I can’t catch my breath. He walks past the bookshop, as though nothing is amiss. I have a proposal for you. Please call me as soon as you can.
Love,
Sophie
Poor Sophie. I’d heard all about her grand love affair with a dashing twenty-something man, who frequented her bookshop, and quoted famous poets. It’d been a whirlwind romance, but she often worried he cast an appraising eye over other women. Even when she clutched his hand, and walked along the cobbled streets of Paris, he’d dart an admiring glance at any woman swishing past.
I shot off a quick reply, telling her to Skype me now, if she was able. Within seconds my computer flashed with an incoming call.
Her face appeared on the screen, her chestnut-colored hair in an elegant chignon, her lips dusted rosy pink. If she was in the throes of heartache, you’d never know it by looking at her. The French had a way of always looking poised and together, no matter what was happening in their complex lives.
“Darling,” she said, giving me a nod. “He’s a lothario, a Casanova, a…” She grappled for another moniker as her voice broke. “He’s dating the girl who owns the shop next door!” Her eyes smoldered, but her face remained stoic.
I gasped, “Which girl? The one from the florist?”
Sophie shook her head. “The other side, the girl from the fromagerie.” She grimaced. I’d heard so much about the people in or around Sophie’s life that it was easy to call her neighbors to mind. “Giselle?” I said, incredulous. “Wasn’t she engaged – I thought the wedding was any day now?”
Sophie’s eyes widened. “She’s broken off her engagement, and has announced it to the world that my Manu has proposed and now they are about to set up house and to try immediately for children –”
My hand flew to my mouth. “Children! He wouldn’t do that, surely!” Sophie was late-forties, and had gently broached the subject of having a baby with Manu, but he’d said simply: absolutely not, he didn’t want children.
The doorbell of her shop pinged, Sophie’s face pinched and she leaned closer to the screen, lowering her voice. “A customer…” She forced a bright smile, turned her head and spoke in rapid-fire French to whoever stood just off-screen. “So,” she continued quietly. “The entire neighborhood are whispering behind their hands about the love triangle, and unfortunately for me, I’m the laughing stock. The older woman, who was deceived by a younger man.”
I wished I could lean through the monitor and hug her. While she was an expert at keeping her features neutral, she couldn’t stop the glassiness of her eyes when tears threatened. My heart broke that Manu would treat her so callously. She’d trusted him, and loved him unreservedly. “No one is laughing at you, I promise,” I said. “They’ll be talking about Manu, if anyone, and saying how he’s made a huge mistake.”
“No, no.” A bitter laugh escaped her. “I look like a fool. I simply cannot handle when he cavorts through the streets with her, darting glances in my bookshop, like they hope I’ll see them. It’s too cruel.” Sophie held up a hand, and turned to a voice. She said au revoir to the customer and spun to face me, but within a second or two, the bell sounded again. “I have a proposal for you, and I want you to really consider it.” She raised her eyebrows. “Or at least hear me out before you say no.” Her gaze burned into mine as I racked my brain with what it could be, and came up short. Sophie waved to customers, and pivoted her screen further away.
“Well?” I said with a nervous giggle. “What exactly are you proposing?”
She blew out a breath, and then smiled. “A bookshop exchange. You come and run Once Upon a Time, and I’ll take over the Bookshop on the Corner.”
I gasped, my jaw dropping.
Sophie continued, her calm belied by the slight quake in her hand as she gesticulated. “You’ve always said how much you yearned to visit the city of love – here’s your chance, my dear friend. After our language lessons, you’re more than capable of speaking enough French to get by.” Sophie’s words spilled out in a desperate rush, her earlier calm vanishing. “You’d save me so much heartache. I want to be in a place where no one knows me, and there’s no chance for love, ever again.”
I tried to hide my smile at that remark. I’d told Sophie in the past how bereft of single men Ashford was, and how my love life had been almost non-existent until Ridge strolled into town.
“Sophie, I want to help you, but I’m barely hanging on to the bookshop as is…” I stalled for time, running a hand through my hair, my bangs too long, shielding the tops of my eyebrows. How could it work? How would we run each other’s businesses, the financial side, the logistics? I also had an online shop, and I sourced hard-to-find books – how would Sophie continue that?
My mind boggled with the details, not to mention the fact that leaving my books would be akin to leaving a child behind. I loved my bookshop as if it were a living thing, an unconditional best friend, who was always there for me. Besides, I’d never ventured too far from Ashford let alone boarded a plane – it just couldn’t happen.
Please,” Sophie said, a real heartache in her tone. “Think about it. We can work out the finer details and I’ll make it worth your while. Besides, you know I’m good with numbers, I can whip your sales into shape.” Her eyes clouded with tears. “I have to leave, Sarah. You’re my only chance. Christmas in Paris is on your bucket list…”
My bucket list. A hastily compiled scrappy piece of paper filled with things I thought I’d never do. Christmas in Paris – snow dusting the bare trees on the Left Bank, the sparkling fairy lights along the Boulevard Saint-Germain. Santa’s village in the Latin Quarter. The many Christmas markets to stroll through, rugged up with thick scarves and gloves, Ridge by my side, as I hunted out treasures. I’d spent many a day curled up in my own shop, flicking through memoirs, or travel guides about Paris, dreaming about the impossible…one day.
Sophie continued: “If you knew how I suffered here, my darling. It’s not only Manu, it’s everything. All of a sudden, I can’t do it all any more. It’s like someone has pulled the plug, and I’m empty.” Her eyes scrunched closed as she fought tears.
While Sophie’s predicament was different to mine, she was in a funk, just like me. Perhaps a new outlook, a new place would mend both our lives. Her idea of whipping my sales into shape was laughable though, she had no real clue how tiny Ashford was.
“Exchange bookshops…” I said, the idea taking shape. Could I just up and leave? What about my friends, my life, my book babies? My fear of change? And Ridge, what would he have to say about it? But my life…it was missing something. Could this be the answer?
Paris. The city of love. Full of rich literary history.
A little bookshop on the bank of the Seine. Could there be anything sweeter?
With a thud, a book fell to the floor beside me, dust motes dancing above it like glitter. I craned my neck to see what it was.
Paris: A Literary Guide.
Was that a sign? Did my books want me to go?
“Yes,” I said, without any more thought. “I’ll do it.”


Rebecca Raisin
is a bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been widely published in various short-story anthologies, and in fiction magazines, and is now focusing on writing romance. The only downfall about writing about gorgeous men who have brains as well as brawn is falling in love with them – just as well they’re fictional. Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and, most importantly, believe in true, once-in-a-lifetime love.

You can find Rebecca Raisin on Facebook | Twitter | rebeccaraisin.com

Also by Rebecca Raisin

The Gingerbread Café trilogy:

Christmas at the Gingerbread Café
Chocolate Dreams at the Gingerbread Café
Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Café

The Bookshop on the Corner
Secrets at the Maple Syrup Farm 

You can find The Little Bookshop on the Seine on -











COVER REVEAL! - Angela Clarke's Follow Me

Avon books are shooting out fabulous cover after cover just lately, and I'm absolutely thrilled to be bringing you tonight's cover reveal, folks! It's dark, it's dangerous, and it's definitely got that 'edge' to it that I can't seem to get enough of! The lovely Helena Sheffield from Avon has been sending out the most teasing emails in regards to this book, and I cannot wait to see what's in store for us!

So, without further ado, let's get another cover reveal under-way!
Here it is, book folk. The fantastic cover of Angela Clarke's Follow Me...


Title - Follow Me
Author - Angela Clarke
Publication Date - December 1st 2015 (eBook) December 31st 2015 (Paperback)
Publisher - Avon

LIKE. SHARE. FOLLOW... DIE

The 'Hashtag Murderer' posts chilling cryptic clues online, pointing to their next target. Taunting the police. Enthralling the press. Capturing the public's imagination.

But this is no virtual threat.

As the number of his followers rises, so does the body count.

Eight years ago two young girls did something unforgivable. Now ambitious police officer Nasreen and investigative journalist Freddie are thrown together again in a desperate struggle to catch this cunning, fame-crazed killer. But can they stay one step ahead of him? And can they escape their own past?

Time's running out. Everyone is following the #Murderer. But what if he is following you?

ONLINE, NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM...


Angela Clarke has spent the majority of her working life in the fashion industry, calling everyone darling. As an agent representing photographers, stylists, make up artists and hairdressers Angela produced photoshoots for high-end fashion magazines and designer labels, and was involved with numerous London and Paris Fashion Weeks.

In addition to her work in the fashion industry Angela has pursued a passion for writing. After drunkenly lecturing an editor in a curry house off Brick Lane about the lack of women writers in his paper, she landed her first column. From this auspicious and tipsy start she launched a career writing a number of tongue-in-cheek columns and lifestyle pieces for various national publications. 

When not busy mucking about on Twitter, Angela can be found working on her latest book. She lives with her husband and 421 books (at the last count).  

You can find Angela Clark on Facebook | Twitter | angelaclarke.co.uk
You can find Follow Me on - 














The Scandalous Proposal of Lord Bennett by Raven McAllan


Title - The Scandalous Proposal of Lord Bennett
Author - Raven McAllan
Publication Date - September 22nd 2015
Publisher - Carina UK
Format - Kindle Edition (Provided via NetGalley)
Pages - 257

To have and to hold?

Reluctant débutante Lady Clarissa Macpherson has never forgotten the forbidden kiss she shared with notorious rake, Lord Theodore Bennett, all those years ago. Even now, he's the one man who sets Clarissa's pulse racing and her skin tingling - no matter how hard she tries to ignore it!

Yet, when Theodore rescues her from the unwanted advances of a drunken Lord at a society ball, she finds herself in a most scandalous predicament - engaged, to the most eligible bachelor in London!

Wedded? It appears so, but bedded? Clarissa demands more from her marriage than simply surrendering to her new husband's sexual desires, especially when she realises she's falling deeper in love with him every single day. Theodore must prove that she's the only woman for him - and surrender his heart!

Yet resisting her new husband's delicious seduction may prove the hardest thing Clarissa has ever done...

It's been a while since I last had the pleasure of dipping into a delicious serving of regency romance, so I couldn't wait to begin Raven McAllan's The Scandalous Proposal of Lord Bennett. The title, the cover and not forgetting the blurb all sang to me, and the fact that the proposal was referred to as scandalous within the title enticed me even more. I wanted to find out all about this Lord Bennett character who, from the blurb, sounded to me like the sort of man a woman shouldn't want, but can't help herself and wants him anyway, regardless of the rules! I readied myself for a sultry, captivating read, and I'm pleased to say that's exactly what I found.

Without relaying the blurb, The Scandalous Proposal of Lord Bennett focuses on the coupling of Clarissa Macpherson and Lord Theodore Bennett. Following on from a secret kiss the pair had once shared years beforehand, Clarissa and Lord Bennett meet again at a rather swanky ball. In a true, swoonworthy and heroic gesture, Lord Bennett appears to swoop in at exactly the right moment and rescues Clarissa from the slimy advances of a tipple-induced ball-attendee, but which quickly transforms into a proposal to save Clarissa from a torrent of scandal and gossip in the worst way. As the novel unravels, the reader journeys alongside Clarissa and Lord Bennett as they step into marriage and become accustomed to life beside each other, although nothing is ever as easy as it first appears to be, and Clarissa and Lord Bennett each have their own worries and troubles to contend with as they embark upon this adventure together.

What I truly enjoyed within The Scandalous Proposal of Lord Bennett were Raven's absolutely stunning descriptions The clothes, the settings, the language used within her characters' dialogue swept me into another era completely. I devoured the imagery provided by the author, allowing my imagination to run wild, and this helped to really set the scene for me. Raven's clear passion and knowledge in regards to this earlier century shone through in her writing and made it a pure joy for me to read. From the talk of society balls to the terms used, such as 'rake' and 'ton', and the descriptions of the evening gown and food, I thoroughly enjoyed stepping back in time with the help of Raven McAllan.

The chemistry between Clarissa Macpherson and Lord Bennett drove me absolutely wild in this novel. Clarissa was a character who I found wholly entertaining, with her determination to not become dependent on Lord Bennett, and her refusal to lay with him if she were only to become another notch on his bedpost. She was such a strong and fierce woman, the type of woman I'd certainly like to be like, with a backbone tougher than iron and a brain far too quick to be outwitted by Lord Bennett. Every scene which saw Clarissa and Lord Bennett together had my pulse rising, the desire between them so obvious and the refusal to do anything about it so torturous! Raven's language during these sensual moments was absolutely fantastic. What impressed me even more was the fabulous character development throughout the telling of Clarissa and Lord Bennett's story. The pair came on leaps and bounds and had grown so much, together as well as separately, by the time my reading of The Scandalous Proposal of Lord Bennett came to an end. It was thrilling to see how they changed throughout, to watch their dialogue towards each other gradually transform into something else too. I felt completely involved in their time together, willing the distance between them to lessen with every page that I turned. It was so well written and delivered, I hardly wanted to leave Clarissa and Lord Bennett when the novel came to an end. I loved the world that I became so absorbed in, a world long before my time, and felt completely swept up by Raven McAllan's style.

  Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my reading of The Scandalous Proposal of Lord Bennet and I would gladly dip into another regency world written by Raven McAllan. A truly delicious step back in time that has left me hungry for more. Becca's Books is awarding The Scandalous Proposal of Lord Bennett by Raven McAllan with FOUR SCRUMMY CUPCAKES! If you're a regency fan, then I suggest you delve into this, it will tease and tantalise until the very last page!




Raven McAllan lives in Scotland, the land of lochs, glens, mountains, haggis, men in kilts (sometimes) and midges. She enjoys all of them - except midges. They're not known as the scourge of Scotland for nothing. 

Her long-suffering husband has learned how to work the Aga, ignore the dust bunnies who share their lives, and pour the wine when necessary. 

Raven loves history, which is just as well, considering she writes Regency romance, and often gets so involved in her research she forgets the time.

She loves to travel, and says she and her hubby are doing their gap year in three week stints. All in the name of research of course.

You can find Raven McAllan on Facebook | Twitter | ravenmcallan.com
You can find The Scandalous Proposal of Lord Bennett on -










BLOG TOUR! - A Christmas Cracker by Trisha Ashley

Today on Becca's Books, I'm thrilled to be welcoming my stop on the blog tour for Trisha Ashley's A Christmas Cracker! For your festive bookish pleasure, I have not one, but two fabulous pieces to share with you today. The first being a piece from the fabulous Trisha Ashley, on what makes her Christmas completely perfect, and the second, an extract from A Christmas Cracker! It's all very exciting and I do hope you enjoy, book folk! Special thanks to Trisha Ashley, and to her fabulous publishers Avon for inviting me along on the tour!


Title - A Christmas Cracker
Author - Trisha Ashley 
Publication Date - October 22nd 2015 (eBook & paperback)
Publisher - Avon

This Christmas is about to go off with a bang!

Things can't possibly get worse for Tabby. Framed for a crime she didn't commit, she suddenly finds herself without a job. Then to make matters worse, Tabby's boyfriend dumps her and gives her cat away to a shelter.

But rescue comes in the form of kindly Mercy. A master of saving waifs and strays, Mercy wants Tabby to breathe new flair into her ailing cracker business. Together, they'll save Marwood's Magical Christmas Crackers.

But someone has other ideas. Mercy's nephew Randal thinks Tabby's a fraudster. Stubborn, difficult and very attractive, her future depends upon winning him round. But it's that time of the year when miracles really can happen. Standing under the mistletoe, Tabby's Christmas is set to be one that she will never forget...

What makes your Christmas completely perfect?
By Trisha Ashley

The magic moment always comes late on Christmas Eve, when the house is filled with a feeling of expectation, as if poised on the edge of something exciting. There's enough food and drink to withstand a siege, and the decorations are up and a wonderful scent of cinnamon, scented fir cones and peeled satsumas fills the air. Then a car door slams outside, signalling my son's arrival and it's time to pull up the drawbridge, break out the mincepies and let revelry commence!

‘You mean you’ve known for ages that your boss at Champers&Chocs was passing off bottles of cheap fizz as vintage champagne, and you haven’t done a single thing about it?’ Kate exclaimed incredulously, her pale blue eyes wide and a cup of herbal tea the exact colour of cat pee suspended halfway to her rose-tinted lips.
Kate was my opposite in looks, being small, fair and cute, though she wasn’t as cute as she thought she was, unless you were really fond of rabbits. And speaking of rabbits, she should long since have put her penchant for pale pink fluffy jumpers behind her, even if the angora had been ethically sourced, which I doubted.
I sighed and stirred my Americano, starting to wish I hadn’t said anything about it because, after all, she and her husband were Jeremy’s old friends, not mine, and she’d been less than welcoming when we’d first got engaged. But some­times Kate and I would meet up for coffee and, that day being one of those occasions, my worries had spilled out of me the moment we’d sat down.
It wouldn’t have happened if I’d been able to tell my best friend, Emma, but since she’d remarried she’d increasingly been
having problems of her own with her husband, Desmond, so I hadn’t wanted to burden her with mine.
Still, at least she wouldn’t have gazed at me in the sad, accusing way Kate was, when I looked up.
‘The idea that anything fraudulent was going on never crossed my mind until I found out by accident,’ I explained. ‘I mean, I don’t think I’d even seen a real bottle of cham­pagne, other than on the TV, until I got engaged to Jeremy.’
‘No, I don’t suppose there are champagne bars on every corner of council estates,’ she said snidely. ‘Just cheap booze shops.’
For the last years of her life, Mum and I had shared a specially adapted council bungalow on a very nice estate, but Kate always talked as if I was dragged up in a slum and had made some giant social leap by getting engaged to a member of the teaching profession.
‘Oh, forget it,’ I snapped.
‘No, you can’t just leave it there without telling me how you found out and why you didn’t report it to the police,’ she insisted.
‘Because I thought it had stopped. It was before last Christmas, when I was packing special orders one evening and my boss and I were the only people there. There was a phone call and I walked into his office to tell him—’
‘I have wondered about those late nights, just the two of you . . .’ she said suggestively.


Trisha Ashley writes romantic comedies, and her latest novel, Creature Comforts, is her seventh consecutive Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller. Her novels have twice been shortlisted for the Melissa Nathan award for Romantic Comedy and Every Woman For Herself was nominated by readers as one of the top three romantic novels of the last fifty years. She is from St Helens in West Lancashire, and believes that her typically dark Lancashire sense of humour in adversity, crossed with a good dose of Celtic creativity from her Welsh grandmother, have made her what she is today... whatever that is. Five of her novels are set in rural West Lancashire and three in Wales. They frequently explore aspects of the three F's that are a constant in her own life: Food, Flowers and Friendship and include delicious recipes at the back. Nowadays she lives in North Wales, together with the neurotic Border Collie foisted onto her by her son, and a very chancy muse. She is the founder member of NW Novelistas Ink, a group of twelve novelists, several of whom are bestselling, who meet regularly in North Wales; she is also a long term member of the Society of Authors and a member of Literature Wales.

You can find Trisha Ashley on Facebook | Twitter | trishaashley.com
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BLOG TOUR ~ My Big Fat Christmas Wedding by Samantha Tonge

Today on Becca's Books, I'm thrilled to be singing and dancing about my stop on the blog tour for Samantha Tonge's latest release My Big Fat Christmas Wedding. On my stop of the tour, I'll be sharing with you lucky lot a fabulous extract from the book, just enough to tease you I hope, which I hope you love!


Title - My Big Fat Christmas Wedding
Author - Samantha Tonge
Publication Date - October 15th 2015
Publisher - Carina
Format - Kindle Edition

Things don't always run smoothly in the game of love...

As her Christmas wedding approaches, a trip back to snowy England for her ex's engagement party makes her wonder if those are wedding bells she's hearing in her mind, or warning bells. She longs for the excitement of her old London life - the glamour, the regular pedicures. Can she really give that all up to be a... fishwife?

There's nothing for it but to throw herself into bringing a little Christmas magic to the struggling village in the form of a Christmas fair. Somewhere amidst the sparkly bauble cakes and stollen scones, she's sure she'll come to the right decision about where she belongs... hopefully in time for the wedding...

My Big Fat Christmas Wedding is the standalone sequel to Game of Scones, perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk and Debbie Johnson. 
Don't miss the Christmas Wedding of the year!


Prologue

As if trying to rock us to sleep, the ocean lapped against the fishing boat's sides. However, Niko and I couldn't have been more awake as we lay lips pressed together, on its wooden bottom. A kaleidoscope of magical fairy dust danced before my closed eyes. Despite the midnight breeze, heat surged through my limbs. Almost two months I'd been in Taxos and the passion of my fisherman friend still left me with wobbly Greek semolina pudding for knees.
Okay. Bear with me. I know this sounded like an extract from one of my favourite romance novels. But a starlit Greek night, during the last humidity of summer, spent with the sexiest man in the Aegean, stirred every soppy cell of my being.
I opened my eyes, pulled away and grinned. Niko leant up on one elbow and an inquiring smile crossed those silken lips. In the moonlight (okay, with the help of our lamp) I drank in that caramel skin, those mocha eyes and the taut outline of a man who did physical work for a living. Then my gaze turned to Kos Island's shoreline. Glowing amber lights illuminated the village. The wind dropped and along with the familiar chirp of cicadas, string music drifted across the waves from the beach, where locals cleared up after a community barbecue. We'd all celebrated building work starting on the much-needed, income-boosting Marine Museum. Thank goodness for the faith of some foreign investors. 
'Pippa? You have a joke to share?'
'It's nothing,' I said and chuckled.
He leant forward and with his free hand tickled just above the corner of my hip. His fingers crept up to under my arm and I laughed even harder. Then gently he bent further forward, so that our noses touched. He batted his lush eyelashes against mine - butterfly kisses, his speciality to make me giggle, when we were kids. They still did - but these days made me also tingle in places I never used to know existed. 
'Okay, okay,' I said and backed away, longing to once again kiss his firm mouth. 'It's just that in my mind I called you my fisherman friend. A Fisherman's Friend is a decades-old famous cough-sweet in England, made from liquorice and menthol - people either love it or hate it.'
One eyebrow raised, Niko sat up on the blanket and took both my hands. 'And you, my little juicy fig,' he said, huskily, 'are a huge fan of this particular fisherman friend, no?'
'I'm not sure,' I said airily, 'I might need to have another taste.'
Niko smiled and then stared for a moment. He cleared his throat and pulled me up, so that I was sitting too. Cue a more vigorous rocking of the boat. Water splashed onto my arm, like a sudden shot of aircon. This was the perfect night for skinny-dipping, me minus my polka-dot undies, Niko revealing his lower abdominal V muscle, acquired from honest labour, not some clinical gym.
'You see me as much more than a friend though, no?' said Niko, cheeks tingeing red. 'And you like living here?'
'Huh? Of course. Nikoloas Sotiropoulous. How can you even ask?'
Since my return to Taxos, the holiday destination of my early years, earnest, gorgeous islander, Niko, had become the centre of my world. This was quite an admission for a mathematician who, only a matter of weeks ago, commuted daily for work in a major London bank. If you'd told me back then that in September I'd be running a teashop in Kos, I'd have sooner believed I was going to relocate to Mars. Okay so it would be nice to visit my favourite restaurant in Soho now and again, plus shop in Oxford Street, but London couldn’t compete with the island’s freshly caught fish and coastal views.
‘I adore you and love living here,’ I said. ‘Watching the teashop take off has given me such an adrenaline rush – as has me making plans to branch out to make regular scone deliveries to the Creami-Kos café chain. And the summer weeks here have been idyllic. Diving into the refreshing Taxos sea after a hard day’s work, certainly beats catching a stuffy train home to take a shower. As for the raven-black night skies, untainted by the glow of city lights, and villagers shaking my hand every day… I’d never once spoken to some of my close neighbours in London.’
Niko ran a hand through his curly black hair. Through his tight T-shirt his chest rose and dipped more quickly than usual.
‘You speak more poetically since living here,’ he whispered. ‘Where has that practical banker gone?’
I poked him in the ribs. ‘You’ve ruined her. It’s your fault.’
‘I can be a poet too,’ he said, in a seductive treacle-like tone. ‘It’s as if you’re the antidote to my personal poisons. You extinguish my self-doubt and evaporate my paranoia.’ He took a deep breath and glanced away for a second. ‘But now, dear Pippa, I have something very important to say.’ He looked back at me, all the twinkle gone from his eyes. ‘Can’t put it off any longer. It’s been building up.’
‘Is something the matter?’ My heart thumped. Perhaps our time together had been too intense, and he wanted to step back. What if Niko had brought me onto the ocean to let me down gently; say it wasn’t working out, me living in his family’s taverna, baking and selling my scones in the half of the building they’d closed down; poetry aside, that we were too different, with me thinking in numbers, him thinking in shoals; that all those years we’d played together as children, during summer holidays, didn’t mean we were destined to spend our lives together as adults?
I swallowed. ‘What is it?’
‘Yesterday. I spoke to your father.’
‘Did he ring?’ I sat bolt upright. ‘Why didn’t you tell me? Is everything okay?’ My mind raced. Was something wrong at home? Or was Niko worried I’d have no job if we split up and I decided to return to England? Perhaps he was trying to line me up a position with my dad – not that I’d need anyone’s help. I was an independent, modern woman who…aarghh, who melted like chocolate in the sun, when Niko touched me or spoke with his sexy Greek accent that made my skin flush and palms moisten.
‘We…I…your father agreed that…’
‘Niko! Just spit it out!’
‘Huh?’ His brow furrowed and he stuck out his tongue. ‘See, I am not eating anything.’
‘No! In English that means hurry up and tell me. What’s this all about?’
‘Us. The future.’ He pulled a small red box out of his back pocket.
I gasped. Gosh. Really? But…’ My eyes pricked.
‘Your father gives us his blessing,’ Niko prised open the lid and looked up at me shyly. ‘I hope you don’t mind me seeking your father’s permission first but…’ He shrugged those strong shoulders and I nodded, knowing how important some traditions were to him, especially when it came to family. ‘Pippa, you are sweeter than the most honey-filled baklava in Athens. Your first smile of the day is my sunrise. Marry me. Make me the happiest man in the whole of Greece.’
A lump rose in my throat. What an exceptionally pretty silver ring, bearing a sparkling blue sapphire, surrounded by tiny diamonds. It reminded me of the blue and white houses across the island.
‘This belonged to my great aunt Alexis. She had no children and considered me her own grandson. When I was a little boy, she gave this to Mama and told me to one day give it to the woman who captured my heart.’ A smile crossed his face. ‘Of course, at the time I was more interested in capturing carp.’ He squeezed my fingers and his face kind of scrunched up. ‘I…I know it’s not long after Henrik’s proposal. And Greece…the economy…  So if you need time to think – I would understand if you don’t see your future in Kos.’
My heart pounded and I wanted to stand upright and sing! Niko and me married? A tear trickled down my cheek. I couldn’t have felt more different to when my practical, down-to-earth ex-boyfriend had proposed in the summer – which was odd. Up until my trip here, I’d agreed with Henrik that slushy declarations of love were for teenagers or the pastel-covered beach reads that I ironically liked to read. But there was something about Niko’s seductive words that always softened my logical, pragmatic part. And as for the country’s difficulties, I felt nothing but compassion for the Greek people.
‘No.’
His shoulders dropped.
‘No, no, I don’t need time to think!’
His eyes sparked and he pulled me towards him, his warm mouth once again owning mine. I breathed in his natural aroma, a kind of musky, leather masculine scent. My desire for him became more urgent, as our bodies pressed together. Gently, he pushed me away, eyes dancing, cheeks flushed. He took the ring out of the box and hesitated for a moment. Of course – over here wedding rings didn’t go on the left-hand finger, but the right.
More tears flowing, I laughed and offered him my right hand.
‘We’re going to have to compromise,’ I said. ‘Won’t I have to convert to your religion? And then there is the reception venue to choose. Above all else, I don’t want an over-the-top wedding.’
Niko’s infectious chuckles filled the balmy evening air. ‘Good luck with telling Mama and Grandma. We’d better set an early date, if you don’t want arrangements to snowball.’
Snowball. Great word. Like so many of the locals, Niko spoke good English, despite sometimes still misunderstanding the basics. Whereas Greek, to me, might as well have been like learning cat or dog, and don’t even get me started on its written alphabet.
I clapped my hands. ‘Then talking of snow, what about a Christmas wedding? It would cheer up those quiet winter months you talk of.’
In response, Niko – my husband-to-be – gave me a kiss hot enough to turn the sturdiest of snowmen into a puddle.    


Samantha Tonge lives in Cheshire with her lovely family and a cat that thinks it's a dog. When not writing, she spends her time cycling and willing cakes to rise. She has sold over 80 short stories to women's magazines. Her bestselling debut novel, Doubting Abbey, was was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction Best eBook award in 2014. Her summer 2015 novel Game of Scones hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart.

You can find Samantha Tonge on Facebook | Twitter | samanthatonge.co.uk
You can find My Big Fat Christmas Wedding on -