Curl up with some Christmas Fiction

A few days ago I posted about my favourite books this year for children at Christmas. Today is all about adult fiction with a Christmas theme! I find reading about Christmas really helps to get me in the mood and these three books are perfect for that!

Mistletoe on 34th Street by Lisa Dickenson

fiction

Olivia has never experienced a snow-covered, ‘traditional’ Christmas before. Having grown up in a family that chose winter sun over decking the halls, she’s not sure what all the fuss is about. So when she and her colleagues are stranded in New York after a work trip, Olivia is perfectly happy spending the holiday season in the Big Apple.

Jon, Olivia’s friend, on the other hand is desperate to get home in time for his big family get-together. Nevertheless, determined to make the best out of the situation, he sets out to show Olivia how enchanting Christmas in New York can be. And when handsome New Yorker Elijah is added to the mix, could the magic of the season finally be working its charm on Olivia? As 25 December draws closer, Olivia suddenly finds herself with a decision to make: who does she really want to kiss under the mistletoe this Christmas?

Miracle On 5th Avenue (From Manhattan with Love, Book 3) by Sarah Morgan

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Hopeless romantic Eva Jordan loves everything about Christmas. Even if she is spending it alone housesitting a spectacular Fifth Avenue apartment. What she didn’t expect was to find the penthouse still occupied by its gorgeous–and mysterious–owner.

Bestselling crime writer Lucas Blade is having the nightmare before Christmas. With a deadline and the anniversary of his wife’s death looming, he’s isolated himself in his penthouse with only his grief for company. But when the blizzard of the century leaves Eva snowbound in his apartment, Lucas starts to open up to the magic she brings…This Christmas, is Lucas finally ready to trust that happily-ever-afters do exist?

Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

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It’s Christmas in the Cornish coastal village of Mount Polbearne – a time for family, friends and feasting.

Polly Waterford loves running the Little Beach Street Bakery. She’s at her happiest when she’s creating delicious treats and the festive season always inspires her to bake and knead something extra special for the village residents. In fact, the only thing she loves more than her bakery is curling up with her gorgeous boyfriend, Huckle. She’s determined that this Christmas is going to be their best one yet, but life doesn’t always work out as planned…

When Polly’s best friend Kerensa turns up with a secret that threatens the life Polly and Huckle have built together, the future begins to look uncertain. And then a face from Polly’s past reappears and things become even more complicated. Polly can usually find solace in baking but she has a feeling that’s not going to be enough this time. Can she get things back on track so that everyone has a merry Christmas?

Disclaimer: We were sent some of these items for the purpose of this post. All opinions are our own.

Book review: How the Duke Was Won by Lenora Bell

DukeJames, the scandalously uncivilized Duke of Harland, requires a bride with a spotless reputation for a strictly business arrangement. Lust is prohibited and love is out of the question.
Four ladies. Three days. What could go wrong?

She is not like the others…
Charlene Beckett, the unacknowledged daughter of an earl and a courtesan, has just been offered a life-altering fortune to pose as her half-sister, Lady Dorothea, and win the duke’s proposal. All she must do is:
* Be the perfect English rose 
* Breathe, smile, and curtsy in impossibly tight gowns 
* Charm and seduce a wild duke 
* Keep said duke far, far from her heart 

When secrets are revealed and passion overwhelms, James must decide if the last lady he should want is really everything he needs. And Charlene must decide if the promise of a new life is worth risking everything . . . including her heart.

Review

When it comes to Regency romances I tend to have my favourite authors. When I got sent How the Duke Was Won (The Disgraceful Dukes) I hadn’t heard of Lenora Bell before. However, I’m always on the lookout for new authors in this genre as there aren’t really that many!

How the Duke Was Won started off very differently to other books in this genre. Protagonist Charlene is a ‘common’ girl from Covent Garden, the area known for brothels! She’s definitely not your regular Lady. In fact, she was the complete opposite. I certainly haven’t read about any woman in this genre who knows self-defense. I loved Charlene, her character was so full of fire and humour!

The plot really revolves around James, the Duke of Harland and his search for a wife. He’s been living overseas for a while but knows he has to live up to his title. I was a bit unsure about James for quite a while to be honest. He invites four ladies to his home, at the same time, to see which of them are suitable! Charlene, not actually being a lady at all steps in to impersonate her half sister, Lady Dorothea, and win the Duke’s heart on her behalf.

How the Duke Was Won was a really fun book and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. However, as you can probably guess with a name such as Charlene popping up, it’s not terribly historically accurate. Now, I’m not a historian so I don’t really care but I can see things like this annoying some people.

How the Duke Was Won is the first book in The Disgraceful Dukes series. The second book, If Only I Had a Duke is out now as well!

How the Duke Was Won was released by Piatkus on 26th May 2016.

Buy on Amazon!

Disclaimer: We were sent this book for review. All opinions are our own. 

Blog tour: The House in Quill Court by Charlotte Betts

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for The House in Quill Court by Charlotte Betts. I love anything set in the Regency era and this book was no exception!

Quill Court

Venetia Lovell lives by the sea in Kent with her pretty, frivolous mother and idle younger brother. Venetia’s father, Theo, is an interior decorator to the rich and frequently travels away from home, leaving his sensible and artistic daughter to look after the family. Venetia designs paper hangings and she and her father often daydream about having an imaginary shop where they would display the highest quality furniture, fabrics and art to his clients.

When a handsome but antagonistic stranger, Jack Chamberlaine, arrives at the Lovell’s cottage just before Christmas bringing terrible news, Venetia’s world is turned upside-down and the family have no option but to move to London, to the House in Quill Court and begin a new life. Here, Venetia’s courage and creativity are tested to breaking point, and she discovers a love far greater than she could have ever imagined . . .

Quill Court

Quite a few months back now I read my first book  by Charlotte Betts, The Chateau on the Lake. I absolutely loved it. I couldn’t wait to get into another of her books.

Protagonist Venetia seems to have a very special relationship with her father and that is clear from page one. However, Venetia learns that her father had some big secrets after his shocking death; he had a whole other family in London. As I liked Venetia immediately I felt really sorry for her. Not only has her father died but she’s found out about his secret life. She is then forced to move in with them in their London house.

What I loved the most about The House in Quill Court was the setting. Betts manages to write about the Regency era in a really new and refreshing way. Venetia loves interior design and this is something she worked on with her father before he died. Their dream was to open up their own shop. I absolutely loved seeing this come to life. Not only was it a lovely setting for a chunk of the story but it also worked well for Venetia’s character. She was such an independent and feisty lady!

The House in Quill Court also has loads else going on as well, which was fantastic! Not only do we get to see the (sort of) richer side of life but there is a whole story line which focuses on the not so fortunate. The contrast was fantastic but everything was also tied together really well to stop making it two completely different stories.

Of course, there is also a lovely romance in this novel. What I love about Charlotte Betts’ books is that the romance really isn’t the focus of the plot. While I do obviously like this about a book it’s not everything. Betts is fantastic at writing a slow burning romance that you still love to read about, which was exactly the case here!

As you can probably tell, I thoroughly enjoyed The House in Quill Court. 

The House in Quill Court is released on 25th August by Piatkus!
Amazon

Be sure to check out the other stops on the blog tour!

Quill Court

Book review: Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

Valley of the DollsValley of the Dolls took the world by storm when it was first published, fifty years ago. Never had a book been so frank about sex, drugs and show business. It is often sited as the bestselling novel of all time.

Dolls – red or black; capsules or tablets; washed down with vodka or swallowed straight. For Anne, Neely and Jennifer, it doesn’t matter, as long as the pill bottle is within easy reach. These three beautiful women become best friends when they are young and in New York, struggling to make their names in the entertainment industry. Only when they reach the peak of their careers do they find there’s nowhere left to go but down – to the Valley of the Dolls.

Review

Today is my stop on the blog tour for the Valley of the Dolls 50th Anniversary! Before getting the opportunity to review this book I honestly hadn’t heard of this book, even though it is 50 years old now. Way back in 1966 this book spent a whopping 28 weeks at the top of the New York Times bestsellers list. Things like that are what made me want to read The Valley of the Dolls. I needed to know why people thought it was so good and why it is still popular 50 years later.

The novel follows three protagonists, Anne, Neely and Jennifer and their lives in New York. They all trying to make it in the entertainment industry. I found it a little strange that the book wasn’t really about the women’s journey to ‘making it’. The novel focuses on the kinds of struggles that each woman encounters once she has actually achieved her dreams.

I really enjoyed how real this novel was. I can imagine it would have been quite shocking when it was released back in 1966. A large part of the novel is about drugs and there are also cat fights, affairs, drinking, porn etc. Although 50 year old, Valley of the Dolls is still so relevant because of the issues raised. I think this is why I liked the book as much as I did. I could see how people would react in some of the same ways today, had they been put in the same kinds of situations.

Something else that I really enjoyed was the focus on body image. It was interesting to see what people would do to achieve what they thought was required of them. Not only is this still really relevant in the entertainment industry now but in a lot of different places and situations. People feel pressured to wear certain clothes, look a certain way and be as skinny as people on the front of magazines. This is something that comes up every day in current culture and a topic I think is  really important to tackle.

Valley of the Dolls was not what I was expecting and I liked it much more than I thought I would!

Be sure to check out other stops on the blog tour!

You can take a quiz here to find out which doll you are!

*Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Book review: A Wicked Way to Win an Earl by Anna Bradley

downloadEngland, 1811. Delia Somerset despises the privileged ton, but her young sister, Lily, is desperate to escape their family’s scandalous past and join high society. Unwilling to upset her sister, Delia reluctantly agrees to attend a party at the Sutherland estate-and avoid the gossip at all costs.

Alec Sutherland is known as a hot-headed scoundrel, but nothing gets a rise out of him as much as the news that his brother desires Delia’s hand in marriage. She is, after all, the daughter of the London belle who soiled their family name. He’s determined to ruin her reputation as well, in the most delicious way possible. It’s only a matter of time before he can woo her with his irresistible advances.

As Delia devilishly plays along in Alec’s game, determined to prove the joke is on him, they inch ever closer to repeating history. And in this game of seductive glances, scandalous whispers, and old debts, the outcome might be much more than either of them anticipated…

Review

I’ve just started getting back into Regency romances since having a pretty long break but I was really glad to see this title come through my door, especially as it was a debut from a new author! A Wicked Way to Win an Earl is the first book in the Sutherland Scoundrels series and what a start it is!

Young Delia is responsible for looking after her sisters after her parents died. She does the best she can but when they’re invited to stay with the sisters of Lord Carlisle, she is less than impressed. Delia’s parents were subject of a pretty big scandal and she has no time for the gossip talking Ton. From the minute she meets Lord Carlisle, she thinks she was right about how arrogant and annoying he would be. Soon, she finds herself in the middle of a dangerous game with him that she has no idea how to win.

Delia and Alec were fantastic characters. They meet in a very unexpected and exciting way and in such a way that I haven’t seen done in a Regency romance before. You can see from the very start that they are going to have some amazing banter between them and this made me excited to read their story. The attraction between them is clearly there from the very beginning but Delia, being an inexperienced female, doesn’t really know what to do with Alec.

Something I loved about Delia was that she was a fighter. Alec really knew what he was doing but Delia didn’t really have a clue. Not only is she not used to dealing with men of the ton but she is certainly not used to talking and flirting with them. However, she keeps up with Alec superbly and I loved watching her trying to figure out what she could do next to better him.

Anna Bradley has written an absolutely wonderful debut. With a funny and exciting plot, mixed with characters you cannot help but love, this book was perfect for me!

A Wicked Way to Win an Earl by Anna Bradley was published by Piatkus on 5th December 2015. I received a copy for review. 

Book review: Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

27835258Everyone expects Billie Bridgerton to marry one of the Rokesby brothers. The two families have been neighbors for centuries, and as a child the tomboyish Billie ran wild with Edward and Andrew. Either one would make a perfect husband… someday.

Sometimes you fall in love with exactly the person you think you should…

Or not.

There is only one Rokesby Billie absolutely cannot tolerate, and that is George. He may be the eldest and heir to the earldom, but he’s arrogant, annoying, and she’s absolutely certain he detests her. Which is perfectly convenient, as she can’t stand the sight of him, either.

But sometimes fate has a wicked sense of humor…

Because when Billie and George are quite literally thrown together, a whole new sort of sparks begins to fly. And when these lifelong adversaries finally kiss, they just might discover that the one person they can’t abide is the one person they can’t live without…

Review

Julia Quinn is my absolute favourite Regency romance writer and although I am now a couple of books behind in the Smythe-Smith series, I was so excited to receive this book for review. Because of Miss Bridgerton is the first book in a new prequel series.

MC Billie Bridgerton immediately jumps off the page. She’s so unlike the ‘proper’ lady you expect to read about in this genre of books so I couldn’t help but pay attention to her. To start with, she begins stuck on a roof and she also has a really quick witted, smart mouth on her as well. I loved how different she was compared with Quinn’s previous heroines. She’s very tomboyish and loves nothing more than running around in breeches and doing unladylike things.

George Rokesby is Billie’s love interest, although she would have never thought that’s what he would be. Billie always sort of thought she’d end up with Andrew Rokesby, another one of the brothers. George gives just as good as Billie does which is why he ends up being a really good match for her. Obviously this isn’t really spoiler because what kind of book would this be without a HEA?

The plot, as predictable as it is, was wonderful. In true Julia Quinn style, she had me giggling the whole way through this book. In the actual book there is a 10 reasons to read this book list in the front, one of which is ‘Because in the battle between hero, heroine and cat, the cat win.’ There are so many funny moments in this book and that’s partly what made it so amazing.

Quinn not only has a great thero and heroine but she also introduces a whole host of other interesting characters. I cannot wait to find out more about some of them, especially the other Rokesby boys. There is a mystery running throughout this book which will go on to feature in the other books in this series and I also cannot wait to see what happens with that.

I’ve really missed reading this genre but now I’m well and truly hooked again!

Because of Miss Bridgerton is released on 29th March by Piatkus. I received a copy for review.

Book review: My American Duchess by Eloisa James

51C0J0N6H9L._SX316_BO1,204,203,200_Publisher: Piatkus
Release date: 26th January 2016

The arrogant Duke of Trent intends to marry a well-bred Englishwoman. The last woman he would ever consider marrying is the adventuresome Merry Pelford – an American heiress who has infamously jilted two fiancés.

But after one provocative encounter with the captivating Merry, Trent desires her more than any woman he has ever met. He is determined to have her as his wife, no matter what it takes. And Trent is a man who always gets what he wants.

The problem is, Merry is already betrothed, and the former runaway bride has vowed to make it all the way to the altar. As honour clashes with irresistible passion, Trent realizes the stakes are higher than anyone could have imagined. In his battle to save Merry and win her heart, one thing becomes clear:

All is fair in love and war.

Review

Although I have read a lot of historical romance novels in my time, Eloisa James isn’t someone whose books I have read before. I don’t know why though! As soon as I started reading My American Duchess though I was hooked!

Protagonist Merry was fantastic and really, she’s what makes this book. Merry is from Boston and has no idea how to act properly around the English Ton. She’s come to England with her aunt and uncle to find herself a husband after jilting two previous fiancées. Merry is proud of her American heritage and finds the etiquette rules she’s grown up with much easier and more simple than what she’s expected to learn. Over the course of the book she does make some quite large, but funny, mistakes and I loved that she didn’t care what people thought of her.

At the beginning of the book Merry meets the Duke of Trent on an empty balcony but what neither of them know is that Merry’s new fiancée is the Duke’s brother, Cedric. It’s clear from the beginning that things are not going to go well with Cedric and I wish this aspect of the book had not been quite so predictable. I would have maybe preferred for us to not know that the Duke was Cedric’s brother for a while to add some mystery to the plot.

The plot was quite and light-hearted throughout which made this an easy read. Unfortunately the plot lacked excitement and drama that I’m used to from this genre of books but luckily the humour made up for this. There are some quite funny moments throughout the whole book and I did chuckle to myself a number of times.

A solid three stars from me!

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. 

 

Blog tour: Masquerade by Joanna Taylor

25886191Title: Masquerade
Author: Joanna Taylor
Series: N/A
Acquired: Review
Genre: Adult
Publisher: Piatkus
Release date: 4th August 2015

Lizzy Ward never meant to end up working the streets of Piccadilly. So when a mysterious lord pursues her, it seems her fortunes are changing. But Lord Hays wants feisty Lizzy for more than a night. He needs her to masquerade as his companion.

So can a street-girl navigate the fashion and faux pas of London society? And will Lizzy’s wild heart be too much temptation for Lord Hays?

Review

It has been a while since I’ve read a novel set in Regency times so I jumped at the chance to read this one when I got the email.

When Lizzy Ward moved to London she had quite a different life envisioned for herself. She didn’t think she’d be living in Piccadilly as a prostitute. Although she is a working girl, Lizzy is a romantic at heart and dreams of a rich, handsome gentleman taking her away to something better. She can’t believe her luck when she meets Lord Hays who is only in town for a week on business and offers her a pretty good deal.

Joanna Taylor writes great characters with really interesting backgrounds and that’s mostly what got me hooked to this book.

Lizzy was a pretty feisty and strong character and I loved that about her. Even though she’d been dealt a pretty rough hand at life in London, she made the best of what she had and just tried to get on with things and have the best life she could. I loved that although she knew how hard life could really be, she knew there was always a small chance of something better if only she kept on trying. Determination and strength are great traits for a protagonist to have, especially when the book is set in a period where women can be shown as someone there just to marry and to have children.

Lord Hays was very unlike the rest of the Ton. While there was some pressure to follow suite, he clearly had his own ideas about what his life should be like and what he wanted. However, with Lord Hays I wanted more. I felt like I got to know Lizzy so well while reading this book and I wanted the exact same thing with Lord Hays. Lizzy was much more open than he was and I wish he had have let her in a bit more, especially in the beginning.

One of the biggest aspects of this book that was lacking for me was the plot. Maybe lacking is the wrong word though. It was clear very early on that this could have easily been a retelling of Pretty Woman but set in a different time. The ‘business’ proposition is there, the shopping scene is there, amongst many other things. There was just too many similarities for me and I wanted something more original.

Another little niggle for me was some of the historical aspects. It wasn’t things being wrong as such but things I found somewhat unbelievable. There was a couple of parts where Lizzy acts completely out of character for someone posing as someone above her own station in life. I just didn’t believe that in order to keep her secret, she would have done some of the things she did.

I do think this book could have been fantastic but it fell a little bit short of that for me. However, I did enjoy reading this one and I would quite happily pick up another Regency romance from Joanna Taylor.

Blog tour: The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter (RIP) by Kate Winter

Title: The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter (RIP)
Author: Kate Winter 
Series: N/A
Acquired: Review
Genre: Adult
Publisher: Sphere
Release date: 21st May 2015

When Rosie Potter wakes up one morning with what she assumes is the world’s worst hangover, the last thing she expects is to discover that she’s actually dead. With a frustrating case of amnesia, suspicious circumstances surrounding her untimely demise, and stuck wearing her ugliest flannel PJs, Rosie must figure out not only what happened last night, but why on earth she’s still here.


Slowly the mystery unravels, but there are many other secrets buried in the quiet Irish village of Ballycarragh, and nobody is as innocent as they first appear. Aided by the unlikeliest of allies in her investigation, Rosie discovers that life after death isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, particularly when you might just be falling in love . . .

Review
One morning Rosie Potter wakes up thinking everything is normal apart from the terrible hangover. It doesn’t take long for her best friend to walk into her bedroom and realise she’s been murdered. Not how Rosie was expecting the day to go at all! The beginning of the book is really funny because it takes Rosie a good while to figure out the whole being dead thing and what she can and can’t do. Not only that but she’s dead and stuck in the ugliest pyjama bottoms ever! It doesn’t matter that no one can see her, she knows they’re ugly and wished she’d died in something nicer. 

Rosie was a pretty wonderful character. Instead of being down and sad about being dead she’s angry to begin with and wants to know what happened to her. She also doesn’t really dwell on the fact that she’s dead and instead embraces it. Her personality shines through and she was a joy to read about and get to know. She was funny and full of life (pardon the pun) and she really shone through Kate Winter’s writing. 

The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter is set in the small town of Barrycalagh, Ireland which makes Rosie’s death the most exciting thing to have ever happened there. This bring in a whole host of characters who are extremely colourful and different from one another. As much as I liked Rosie the other characters were so interesting and really brought something fun and different to the story. 

Rosie has no recollection of her murder; she doesn’t know when, why or who did it so there is a big murder mystery to solve in this book. However, it isn’t all about finding out who killed Rosie which is something I loved about this one. Rosie has a lot to figure out about her life and the fact that she can watch people and conversations without being caught really helps her. I loved how Rosie changes over the course of the book due to realisations about many aspects of her life before she died. 

The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter is a funny and original read and one I really enjoyed!


Be sure to check out other posts on the blog tour!


Blog Tour: The Chateau on the Lake by Charlotte Betts

Title: The Chateau on the Lake
Author: Charlotte Betts
Series: N/A
Acquired: Review
Genre: Adult – Historical
Publisher: Piatkus
Release date: 7th May 2015

In 1792 Madeleine Moreou is a teacher at her parent’s Academy for Young Ladies and loves her life and job. But, on the night of a masquerade, tragedy hits and Madeleine is left all alone with the only option being to find her estranged family in France. 

Comte Etienne d’Aubery knows the war is coming and offers Madeleine to escort her and friend Sophie to France. His home, Chateau Mirabelle is out of the way of the Revolution and gives Madeleine a chance to figure out her life. Chateau Mirabelle has secrets though and Madeleine won’t be able to be happy until she figures them out. 

Review
One of the best things about being a blogger and getting emails about books is discovering an author you may not have read before. I’m not sure I would have picked up The Chateau on the Lake if it hadn’t been for an email or a press release but I’m so glad I know about it and Charlotte Betts now. 

The Chateau on the Lake is set in 1792 when the French Revolution was just beginning. Madeleine Moreau is a teacher in a school for girls which was not the norm for a woman of her age during the time. Women were supposed to get married to someone suitable and start a family, not teach. But, Madeleine loves her job and small family and wouldn’t have things any other way. After the death of her parents, Madeleine takes a risk and goes to France to seek out the family she never knew she had. It’s dangerous but Comte Etienne d’Aubery agrees to escort her and even give her a place to stay at his home, Chateau Mirabelle. 

As the book beings in London there is a very strong contrast when the story moves through France. The Chateau on the Lake is spent mostly in the French countryside but we also get to see glimpses of Paris during the Revolution. Charlotte Betts’ descriptions of both the setting and the atmosphere are vivid and the detail is amazing. One particular scene of a beheading sticks out in my mind. Betts captures the feelings that a woman of the time would have experienced by seeing this perfectly and also how the crowd reacted. 

In regards to the plot, The Chateau on the Lake is both a romance, mystery and historical novel all in one. Betts makes sure there is something for everyone in this book and it’s also what made me not able to put it down. I really enjoyed reading about the Revolution and how things changed over time. Chateau Mirabelle and the people surrounding it were so interesting and there was a whole host of interesting characters to get to know. Then there were the secrets. Oh how I loved the mystery in this book. It was woven in to the rest of the plot so well. 

I loved Madeleine as a protagonist. She was such a strong character with an exceptionally strong voice. She’s never afraid to voice her opinions and she always went for what she wanted. Madeleine stood out next other ladies around her because she wasn’t like them. She wasn’t only interested in finding a husband but instead wanted a life for herself first. What I liked the most about Madeleine was how brave she was. In a time when war was looming, she travelled to France and it could have been extremely dangerous for her. 

I am so glad I took a chance on a new author and The Chateau on the Lake. I couldn’t put it down; I had to take it to work with me because I didn’t want to wait until I got home to carry on reading. Charlotte Betts is an author I’ll be looking out for in the future.