Christmas

#Review Miss Marley; A Christmas Ghost Story, A Prequel To A Christmas Carol by Vanessa Lafaye & Rebecca Mascull (@rebeccamascull) @HQDigitalUK #MissMarley #AChristmasCarol

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Before A Christmas Carol there was… Miss Marley

A seasonal tale of kindness and goodwill

Orphans Clara and Jacob Marley live by their wits, scavenging for scraps in the poorest alleyways of London, in the shadow of the workhouse. Every night, Jake promises his little sister ‘tomorrow will be better’ and when the chance to escape poverty comes their way, he seizes it despite the terrible price.

And so Jacob Marley is set on a path that leads to his infamous partnership with Ebenezer Scrooge. As Jacob builds a fortress of wealth to keep the world out, only Clara can warn him of the hideous fate that awaits him if he refuses to let love and kindness into his heart…

In Miss Marley, Vanessa Lafaye weaves a spellbinding Dickensian tale of ghosts, goodwill and hope – a perfect prequel to A Christmas Carol.

My View

This is utterly breath-taking! There is no other words for this beautiful book, once I closed the very last page, I was left in stunned silence and with tears in my eyes, this is the brilliance of this book the emotions that Miss Marley evokes in the reader is incomparable. It is full of tragedy, sadness and it is heart-breaking, as well as portraying the most beautiful message of just being kind to others, that money isn’t everything in life, what is important is family, love and living life itself.

This is the first I have ever read by the late Vanessa Lafaye and it saddens me to know that I may have missed out on something special, so I am unbelievably honoured that I got the chance to review this book. Ms Lafaye and Ms Mascull (who lovingly finished the book on Vanessa Lafaye’s sad passing) have written an atmospheric, realistic and touching story, the sights, smells and life of Dickensian London is brilliant captured which makes this book even more special.

This is the prequel to ‘A Christmas Carol’ and it tells the story of Jacob Marley through the eyes of his little sister; Clara Belle Marley. The story opens when they are nothing but children who are staving on the streets, after their parent’s died and their cruel uncle foisted them off into the workhouse they have nothing but each other. With Jacob’s intellect and wiles they soon find themselves off the street and into the nefarious world of ‘Money lending’. The story doesn’t he hard facts of life on the streets of the money lending business, it is raw and unashamed-idly real.

As the years go by, the siblings raise themselves from the streets, in due course Jacob meets his soon-to-be business partner; Ebeneeza Scrooge and is from here we see just how Jacob Marley found himself destined to reside for all eternity in chains; as we see in A Christmas Carol. Jacob Marley isn’t entirely a selfish man as he does have his moments when he cares for Clara, but there really isn’t an ounce of kindness in him. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Ebeneeza in a different light to the heartless, lost creature we all know him to be. In this there is a glimmer of goodness in him, but being around merciless Jacob has it’s effects on him, it was interesting to seeing the two men when they were young to see how the famous story began.

But the backbone to this is Clara Belle and her absolute love and loyalty to her brother, she is the absolute opposite to Jacob. Where he is hard, cold and ruthless she is kind, warm, caring and always wanting to help if she can. She has a good heart who tries in vain to change her brother’s ways, she has her own story to tell one that can melt the coldest of hearts, and one that will have you weeping.

Magical, charming, festive, beautifully written, heartfelt, captivating, reminiscent of Dickens himself, this is the perfect Christmas gift and one that I can see becoming a classic in its own right and one that will be repeatedly read year after year.

The most heart-warming and beautiful book I have read, perfection!

This was a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, thank you Joe at HQ Digital UK for my copy.

Miss Marley is available at Amazon and I urge everyone to buy it, highly recommended!

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#Review – In Peppermint Peril (A Tea and a Read Mystery) by Joy Avon (@VivWrites) #Christmas #CosyMystery #ATeaAndAReadMystery @crookedlanebks

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Joy Avon’s festive series debut featuring a book-themed tea party organizer will be tons of fun this Christmas for Lorna Barrett and Jenn McKinlay fans.

In the run-up to Christmas Eve, organizer of book-themed tea parties Callie Aspen and her lovable Boston terrier will have to conquer threefold trouble—a mysterious will, a missing heirloom and a dead body—to restore the festive spirit to their small town.

This Christmas, Callie Aspen returns to her childhood hideout Heart’s Harbor, Maine where her great aunt runs Book Tea, a vintage tearoom where every sweet treat contains a bookish clue. Upon arrival in the fairy-tale snowy town, Callie is drawn into the preparations for a special tea party at Haywood Hall, the rambling house of Heart’s Harbor’s oldest resident, rich but lonely widow Dorothea Finster, who invited her estranged relatives, old friends and the elite of the town to make a mysterious announcement about her will.

Believing they can touch a part of her fortune, everybody is determined to come, despite not liking each other or even their hostess. And Callie’s old friend Sheila complicates things by using the tea party to announce her daughter’s engagement, even though her daughter isn’t sure she’s in love with the young lawyer her mother thinks so perfect for her.

Catering to people who each have their own agenda isn’t easy for the Book Tea crew, especially once the valuable engagement ring goes missing and a dead body turns up in the conservatory. Can Callie and her great aunt use their love of clues to dig into the crimes and show their unhappy hostess and squabbling guests the true Christmas spirit?

My View

I loved the sound of this when I first heard of it and I definitely was not disappointed, In Peppermint Peril is the first book in the new debut series by Joy Avon and I am looking forward to reading more from this series and author.

Callie and her cute and a button dog return to her old childhood hideaway; Hearts Harbour for Christmas, she plans to visit her aunt Iphy who runs one of the best tea rooms I have ever come across, they it is a tea shop that hold and caters for bookish themed events and parties, which is such a brilliant idea. Iphy is a master at these events she tends to know exactly what her customers want and she goes above and beyond to cater for them. While staying with her aunt Callie and Iphy are preparing for an Agatha Christie themed event at Haywood Hall. The owner of the Hall; 93 year old Dorothea has decided to make adjustments to her will but as with the stories of the great Agatha Christie her self thing’s don’t exactly go to plan.

As the family and friends of the hugely wealthy Dorothea all flock to the Hall to see what if anything is in store for them, which is all very well the only thing is that none of them like each other, in fact dislike is a mild term what this family feels for one and other. To add to the not so happy get-together Callie’s child hood friends adds a bit more fuel to the fire in the form of her wanting to steal the lime light in announcing her daughters engagement, which isn’t the happy news that she would have hoped. Then right in the middle of so much hype and animosity somebody is murdered with Callie right in the middle of the investigation.

I love that this has got a real Poirot or Miss Marple feel to it, the murder mystery is brilliantly paced the reader follows Callie and the investigation right up to finally uncovering who the murderer was. Even though this is a contemporary story, for me it has a proper vintage feel to it, it’s cosy and fun and brilliantly engrossing. The writing is clearly stylish, it flows with a rare ease and keeps the readers turning the pages. Callie is a brilliant character she is a genuinely lovely lady who is a pretty damn good investigator – definitely a young Miss Marple in the making. On top of the whole murder mystery you have a jolly good Christmas read that will fill you with festive cheer and it is perfect for these cold and cosy long nights.

Marvellous!

This was an ARC via the publisher from Netgalley.

In Peppermint Peril is to be released on 13th November and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.

#Review – Lady Joy And the Earl : A Christmas Novella by Regina Jeffers (@reginajeffers) #Christmas #Regency #Romance

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They have loved each other since childhood, but life has not been kind to either of them. James Highcliffe’s arranged marriage had been everything but loving, and Lady Joy’s late husband believed a woman’s spirit was meant to be broken. Therefore, convincing Lady Jocelyn Lathrop to abandon her freedom and consider marriage to him after twenty plus years apart may be more than the Earl of Hough can manage. Only the spirit of Christmas can bring these two together when secrets mean to keep them apart.

My View

Well this is a wonderfully heart-warming and emotional seasonal story. I am a big fan of Regina Jeffers work, she has a real gift at story telling, she magically captures the readers attention with her charming stories which have some of the most wondrous characters who the reader can really get behind and cheer on. Lady Joy and The Earl is no different, I found this to be a magical story full of raw emotion and a delightful cast of character’s.

Jocelyn (or Joy) and James have been in love with each other since they were children, as their family’s estates are right next door to one and other, they often used to spend many hours and days together. They both new where they wanted their lives to go and that was to be together, unfortunately James’ father had already arranged a marriage for James ever since he was still in the cradle and it wouldn’t be with the neighbouring Marquess’ daughter. Joy was obviously devastated when hearing of James’ marriage, because she didn’t know the details of the arrangement she felt both cheated and disappointed that James would do such a thing to her after she had loved him all her life. Which into the an arranged marriage of her own, never to see each other for another twenty two years.

Both had very unhappy marriages, in different ways so twenty-two years later once widowed and past their moaning period they can both be and do what they want to be. For Joy that means she finally has her freedom, even if that freedom does come at a cost due to what happened when her husband died. She wants nothing more than to go about her life with her children and finally be able to live. For James there is only one thing that he wants, the one thing that was stolen from him; Joy! He is set on finally claiming his Joy for his own, just as he wanted in the first place. But first he must make it past her high defences, for she is far from the spirited woman he knew she has become a shell of her self and he knows that gentleness and a little Christmas magic is the only way forward for both of them to be happy.

Joy hasn’t had the best of luck, first the one man she loved with all her heart suddenly ups and marries someone else, true that it was all arranged when he was a baby, but she doesn’t know that. Her confusion and hurt is always there, even after twenty years apart her heart may do a jolt and speed up at the mere sight of this distinguished, handsome man but also present is her devastation. She was then married off to a horrible man and his treatment of her has left an imprint on her, she is such a wonderfully kind and loving woman but that sparkle tat James loved about er has been put out. But James, being the wonderfully self assure and slightly arrogant man – but in a very good way he can see that there is a flicker of the woman beneath the hurt, I love this man he really is wonderful and oh, so handsome he isn’t cruel or nasty he is utterly charming and he oozes sex appeal. Joy is an amazing woman, she is strong when it comes to her children and she is fierce yet she is vulnerable and fragile. I love the gentleness James shows her and how with his careful wooing she becomes her real self, I particular love the way he subtly flirts and cajoles her into bantering with him. So sweet and funny!

I love this book! The story is very well developed and refreshingly new for the genre, it moves from scene to scene flawlessly. But the thing that I do love about this sweet short story is the chemistry between the leads, James and Joy are a match made in heaven they have both been scarred – if emotionally scarred by the turn of the events when they were young. The feelings for each other is constant, you can feel the emotion on every page, from the rapidly beating hearts to the fact that they can’t stop gazing at one an other. It’s beautiful written, but I expected no less from talented Ms Jefffers .

Gorgeous story, just perfect!!

This was a complimentary copy via the author in exchange for an honest review.

Lady Joy and The Earl can be purchased from Amazon.

#Review : Watch For Me At Christmas (Hartsford Mysteries) by Kirsty Ferry (@kirsty_ferry)

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When midwinter magic brings you home for Christmas …

When Emmy Berry arrives at Hartsford Hall to work at the Frost Fayre she immediately feels at home. Which is odd because she’s never set foot in the place in her life.

Then a freak blizzard leaves her stranded and things get even weirder when she bumps into Tom Howard. Tom and Emmy have never met before but neither can ignore the sense that they know each other.

With Christmas fast approaching and the weather showing no sign of improving it soon becomes apparent that Hartsford Hall has a little bit of midwinter magic in store for them both

My View

This is the second book I have read by Kirsty Ferry and yet again I was utterly mesmerized by this seasonal story of finding true love. Again we return to the magical and beautiful Hartsford Hall for another heart-warming and poignant love story that again entwines history, two beautifully written and enchanting stories that so seamlessly merges into one touching tale of finding love after loss with the help of one magical house.

Emmy Berry has been asked at the last minute to Hartsford Hall to work at the annual Christmas Frost Fayre, Emmy has never been to the hall and yet the moment she steps foot through the door she has the immediate sense that she has been there before, she feels as though she has finally come home. When she meets handsome yet lonely Tom Howard she is shocked that she has this all consuming feeling that she knows this man, she is drawn to him like a moth to a flame just as he is her. Tom is reluctantly spending the Christmas season with his sister, who is the manager of the Hartsford Hall museum, he would rather be else where he has always felt uneasy around the Hall, as though he has lost something or is looking for something and unable to find it.

When suddenly the blizzard has blown in and the inhabitants of Hartsford Hall find themselves snowed in, Tom and Emmy must solve the mystery as to why they have this connection to each other, with the help from some ghosts they begin a journey of discovery that will change their lives.

I do have a soft spot for time-slip stories, I love how they bring together two completely different eras and I have come to find that Ms ferry is a master at this genre. Her writing styles is attractive and engrossing the reader becomes transported into the story, never wanting it to end but yet, you are urging the character’s on to find their happily ever after and to solve the mystery. This is a wonderful seasonal novella that I devoured in one go, it really is the most beautiful little story that I’ve read and I am looking forward to reading more from this author.

Highly enjoyable and recommended.

This was a ARC via the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Watch For Me at Christmas can be pre-ordered at Amazon.

#Review : A Holiday by Gaslight (A Victorian Christmas Novella) by Mimi Mathews (@MimiMatthewsEsq)

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A Courtship of Convenience

Sophie Appersett is quite willing to marry outside of her class to ensure the survival of her family. But the darkly handsome Mr. Edward Sharpe is no run-of-the-mill London merchant. He’s grim and silent. A man of little emotion–or perhaps no emotion at all. After two months of courtship, she’s ready to put an end to things.  

A Last Chance for Love

But severing ties with her former beau isn’t as straightforward as Sophie envisioned. Her parents are outraged. And then there’s Charles Darwin, Prince Albert, and that dratted gaslight. What’s a girl to do except invite Mr. Sharpe to Appersett House for Christmas and give him one last chance to win her? Only this time, there’ll be no false formality. This time, they’ll get to know each other for who they really are.

My View

My goodness, yet again I am blown away with the excellence that is Ms Mimi Matthews. I am a huge fan of her work – In fact, I have said that very sentence so many times, I’m sure that Mimi and everyone reading my reviews must be sick of hearing it, but I don’t care I am still going to shout it from the rooftops just how much I admire this fine lady’s work.

A Holiday By Gaslight is a wonderfully seasonal novella that will definitly leave the reader feeling all warm and Christmassy, set during the Victorian era – which I do have to say, that Ms Matthews is the best there is when comes to this era – and it is full of seasonal joy and atmosphere, the historic detail is as always flawlessly described, it is literally like waking up in this era and joining Sophie and Ned at the Christmas house party.

With the her family facing financial ruin, mainly due to her selfish and inconsiderate father and her brattish sister, Sophie Appersett knows that with no dowry she will most likely have to marry below her station and quickly to bring in the much needed funds her family need especially if they are to carry on living in the land of luxury that they are accustomed to. Walk on stage Edward Sharpe, the handsome, brooding and monosyllabic working class, mill owner and merchant. A man who her class cannot abide because of his humble roots yet will go out of their way to grasp hold of his hard earned cash.

After two month courting, Sophie breaks it off with Ned. She thinks him gruff and silent, in their brief courtship she cannot bare he thought of marrying such a silent man, a man she doesn’t know and who refuses to talk to her. Ned is far from what Sophie thinks him to be, he is silent because he is following what a rather stupid book on society rules says, instead of being himself. They meet again during her parent’s annual Christmas house party, which is when she begins to see what we all see, that he is a wonderfully thoughtful and fascinating man and Ned too sees that she isn’t like the rest of society she doesn’t see him as just a walking bank balance, she is kind and generous and very loving and open.

I have to say that I do love the scene where Ned tell Sophie that he will get a kiss from her, it is such a fun scene and really shows Ned’s witty and fun loving side and shows that he is much more that the incredibly shy with women, brooding yet amazingly intelligent and hard-working man he is, especially when he says he will kiss anywhere either under the mistletoe or under the stairs, I love that!

This is magical, it beautifully entwines a gorgeous Victorian Christmas, social prejudices of the era and the most marvellously different cast of character’s that you would ever want I a historical romance. Each character brings their own personalities to the story, that gives it that realism that I love, Sophie’s sister Emily was a little irritating brat and Mr Murry, well he is a real rakish charmer. I love that the driving force of this is Ned and Sophie not just over coming their own misunderstanding towards one and other, but also attempting to bring their two completely different worlds together to have a harmonious and unforgeable Christmas.

Yet again, Ms Matthews has created another wonderfully charming and vividly rich romance, that will have the readers swooning with absolute delight.

Perfect!

This was an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.

A Holiday by Gaslight is to be released on 13 November and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.

Review : One Night Under The Mistletoe (Convenient Christmas Brides Anthology) by Laurie Benson.

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A convenient arrangement
Three festive Regency romances…

In The Captain’s Christmas Journey, by Carla Kelly, Captain Everard is escorting Verity to her governess job—and for propriety’s sake that means a convenient engagement!

In Louise Allen’s The Viscount’s Yuletide Betrothal Eleanor advertises for a ‘suitable’ gentleman to pose as her betrothed over Christmas.

And in Laurie Benson’s novella, Juliet’s One Night Under the Mistletoe leads to a marriage of convenience with handsome former love Lord Montague…

My View

One Night Under The Mistletoe is book two in The Sommersby Brides series, which for those who haven’t read the first one yet (I highly recommend that you do) is a mini series which follows three sister’s in their pursuit of finding their happily ever after, even if they don’t realise they are looking for it, and that is exactly what you can expect with this one. Ms Benson really has become my go-to author for tender and sensual romances that take, not just the character’s on a journey of discovery to find their happy ever after but also the reader.

When I heard that Laurie Benson was writing a story in a Christmas anthology, I was very excited to see what would come out of it and I was not disappointed with this. I particularly like the fact that instead of writing a stand-a-lone to go in this anthology – which a lot of other authors would have done – Ms Benson chose to carry on the Sommersby Bride series.

Montague is in search of the perfect kiss, a kiss that will blow his mind. He has kissed a lot of women in his life, but he has only ever had a mind blowing, great kiss just once, and since that day he has tried to find a woman who can match and then hopefully he will find the wife that he knows deep down he needs. He doesn’t find anything like the kiss he wants, but what he does find in a secluded library at a ball changes his life forever.

Juliet is quietly reading in the library when she is come upon by the deadly handsome Monty. She remembers when they shared a secret kiss and like Monty she has never really been able to move on from it, only that the man himself broke her heart so terribly she can’t allow herself to love him again.

An innocent and unexpected encounter, forces them to do exactly what neither of them want; to find themselves in Marriage of Convenience. Juliet thinks that this is it, she is stuck in a loveless marriage. Without giving too much away, I love how they begin to reconnect with each other and it is very lovely seeing how they begin to see one an other as more than just a ball and chain. Their road to happily ever after isn’t an easy one as at first their relationship is strained, but the magic of Christmas allows them to finally find what they are both so desperately wanting.

This ticks all boxes for me wonderfully, romantically challenged character’s, beautiful story that enchants and entertains, plus a flawless Christmassy setting that is magical and season wrapped up with that Benson gift to make the reader fall in love. The only downside is that I would have liked it to go on a little longer, which is always the case with novella’s, but this really set’s us up for the next sister’s story. I am really looking forward to seeing where Ms Benson will take Lizzie, she was the sister that I was intrigued by from day one.

A wonderfully seasonal, ever so romantic and magical story that will leave you feeling all warm and ready to put up your own Mistletoe.

This was an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.

One Night Under The Mistletoe (The Convenient Christmas Brides Anthology) is to be released on 1st November and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.

Merry Christmas

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To all my wonderful readers, this is just to say a big thank you for sticking with me as I counted down to Christmas in my own, unique way. I want to wish my dear friends and followers a very Happy Christmas, I hope your day to be filled with so much joy. Chicks Rogues and Scandals is going to be taking a break until the New Year, so i’m leaving you with something very special. This is Silent Night by the brilliantly talented Michael Buble, accompanied by the Trinity Boys Choir.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!