When we Danced at the End of the Pier [Sandy Taylor]

Brighton 1930: Maureen O’Connell is a carefree girl, but her family is on the brink of tragedy, war is looming and life will never be the same again.

Jack and Nelson have always been dear friends to Maureen. Despite their different backgrounds, they’ve seen each other through thick and thin.

As Maureen blossoms from a little girl into a young woman, the candle she’s always held for Jack burns bright. But just as she’s found love, war wrenches them apart. The man she cherishes with all her heart is leaving.

When the bombs start to fall, Maureen and her family find themselves living in the most dangerous of times. With Jack no longer by her side and Nelson at war, Maureen has never felt more alone. Can she look to a brighter future? And will she find the true happiness she’s dreamt of?

An utterly gripping and heart-wrenching story about the enduring power of love, hope and friendship during the darkest of days.

My thoughts on the novel: It was an absolute delight to read the novel When we danced at the end of the pier by Sandy Taylor. The story was deeply emotional and moving. As the reader, you see Maureen grow up at a time of great tragedy: the looming threat of a possible war and the actual horrors of the Second World War (deaths, bombing, evacuees), all in a poor section of Brighton called See Saw Lane.

Throughout their childhood, Maureen and her sister Brenda have had to deal with a “broken daddy” who seems to be wrestling with his own demons. It made them grow up faster, a matter that is obvious in Maureen’s narrative voice and strong personality. Apart from that, Maureen’s friends also have to deal with their share of family and personal drama, from poverty to abuse. She shares a very strong bond with her best friends, including Nelson, Monica and Jack! She will live an incredible love story, as well as an incredible loss that will move you to the core (courtesy of a great narrative and writing style from the author’s part).

All the characters are endearing and touching. The dramatic scenes are heart-wrenching, especially those dealing with bombings. The descriptions are incredibly vivid, which makes for a very realistic novel. You can almost feel and sense everything at the same time as Maureen. The author really managed to write a beautiful tale about family, true love and friendship. If you are a bit of a softie, expect a few tears rolling down your cheeks!

My score: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop [Jane Linfoot]

The snow is falling around Brides by the Sea, Cornwall’s cutest little wedding shop, and wedding dress designer Seraphina East is in her cosy studio designing exquisite dresses to make even the most demanding bride’s dreams come true.

Unless the bride is her big sister Alice of course. Saying that the two sisters don’t always see eye to eye is an understatement. Alice hasn’t even asked Sera to design her wedding dress. But when an absent groom and ill-fitting dress threaten to ruin Alice’s happiness let alone her big day, Sera’s determined to give her sister the winter wedding of her dreams – even if that means keeping not one but two irresistibly gorgeous best men under control…

Is Sera going to end up being the maid of dishonour…Or will repairing her frozen relationship with Alice be the icing on the wedding cake?

My thoughts on the novel: Cuteness alert! Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop perfectly combines everything we love about chick lit — the romance, the clichéd characters (i.e Bridezilla, playboy, etc.), the supposedly carefully planned wedding turning into a real nightmare, all wrapped up in a Christmassy cloud of sweetness.

I haven’t read the first installment entitled The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea, however it’s not a prerequisite. You can still fully enjoy this new plot. I really like the character of Seraphina who appears very down to earth, if not too self-conscious because of her big sister who comes across as the perfect, never-swearing sophisticated city girl. Alice is typically the kind of character you love to hate. The idea of a “wedding manual” epitomizes how exacting and insufferable a bride can become. For the life of me, I don’t get how they can be so fussy about insignificant details, but that’s what makes it so entertaining. At times, she becomes so obnoxious, it’s plain hilarious. As for the notorious playboy, Quinn, he’s the guy who never fails to remind you of someone you’ve crossed paths with in your own life. He’s bad news and you’d better steer clear of him, although I must admit that he spices things up, especially when confronted with other male characters or when stranded on an island with just the right “items”.

All in all, it was very pleasant and refreshing to read about the series of failures leading up to the big day over the magical Christmas weekend. It’s light, amusing and romantic. The writing style is lively, the plot is fast-paced and the ending is heartfelt.

Finally, I really liked the final notes about cocktails and pastries. I’m definitely going to try the “easy peasy chocolate brownies” because, let’s face it, you can never go wrong with Nutella chocolate spread.

I highly recommend this novel if you love all things girly, Christmassy and sparkly.

Score: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

 

All I Want for Christmas [Jenny Hale]

Snowflakes are falling, there’s carol singing on every corner, and Leah Evans is preparing for a family Christmas at her grandmother’s majestic plantation house in Virginia. It won’t be the same now that her beloved Nan is gone, but when Leah discovers she has inherited the mansion, she knows she can give her daughter Sadie the childhood of her dreams.

But there’s a catch. Leah must split the house with a man called David Forester. Leah hasn’t heard that name in a long time. Not since they were kids, when Davey was always there to catch her.

Now David is all grown up. He’s gorgeous, successful, and certain of one thing: Leah should sell him her half of the house.

They can’t agree, but as they share memories over wine by the log fire, Leah notices a fluttering in her stomach. And by the look in his eyes, he’s starting to feel it too.

Will it be Leah or David who must give up their dreams? Or, with a little bit of Christmas magic, will they finally understand Nan’s advice to them both about living life without regrets … and take a chance on true love?


My thoughts on the novel: A special thank you to Bookouture, NetGalley and Jenny Hale for letting me read this heartwarming Christmas tale. All I Want for Christmas is a must-read feel-good novel for this holiday season.

Single mother Leah Evans is an interesting character. She’s strong-willed, sensitive and loving. I really enjoyed reading about her relationship with daughter Sadie and her close friends a.k.a The Girls! After learning about all her struggles, you cannot help but feel resentment when the news break that Nan, Leah’s beloved grandmother, actually didn’t leave the family property solely to Leah as originally planned. A certain David also inherited half of it. This intriguing turn of events makes you really wonder what could have happened for lovely Granny to throw such a wrench in Leah and Sadie’s dream!

As the plot unfolds, the reader eventually grows to appreciate Nan whose secret is unveiled with poignancy. Leah and David share childhood memories that resurface as they spend quality time together. Step by step, you realise that all Nan did was with a specific purpose in mind.

All I Want for Christmas is a festive, touching novel about family, friendship and love.

Score: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

A Christmas Kiss [Susan Hatler]

Harper Avery is a jaded divorce attorney who loves helping her clients move on to better things. After all, they’ve struggled enough being in an unhappy marriage. When one client’s soon-to-be ex-husband suddenly says he wants a second chance with his wife, Harper’s dubious, certain that her client is just going to get hurt again.

Despite his career as a divorce attorney, Gabriel Hart still believes that love can work miracles. Sure, there are no guarantees, but he totally supports his client’s efforts to reconcile with his wife—even if it means Gabriel has to go head-to-head with Harper to keep her from ruining the couple’s chances.

With the holidays approaching, husband and wife set out to see if they can work through their issues, while Harper decides to spend the long Christmas weekend at her friend’s cabin in Lake Tahoe. Only when she gets there, someone is already occupying her last-minute rental—Gabriel Hart. Both refuse to give up their holiday retreat. Will their adversarial working relationship make for a stressful weekend? Or will the magic of Christmas sprinkle them with a love that can beat the odds?


My thoughts on the novel: Hatco Publishing and author Susan Hatler are offering us a brilliant Christmas story you’ll read from cover to cover in no time. The 100-page long rom-com stars two headstrong attorneys who have had their hearts broken in the past and are in need of some peace and quiet over the holidays. But fate had another plan in store for them. Chance has it that they are “stuck” with one another in a lodge cabin in the woods over Christmas. The perfect setting for a budding love story between two opposing counsellors.
This festive, feel-good story is about believing in true love and second chances. Harper and Gabriel are relatable and easy to like, although Gabriel’s personality may sound too good to be true at times. He’s such a helpless romantic, almost sappy character, you think it is indeed a fiction. But, it is precisely why we, romance aficionados, love romance fiction so much, right?!
We want more Gabriels in real life as well!

Score: ♥ ♥ ♥