Sunday 4 October 2015

Reviewed: Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin

Christmas at Lilac Cottage was published by Bookouture on September 25, 2015.

Thanks to Holly and Bookouture for sending me a Netgalley copy of this book to review.

Christmas at Lilac Cottage is the first of Holly Martin’s festive books this year, with the second one, Snowflakes at Silver Cove, being published at the end of October. Holly’s writing style is perfect for the festive season – she writes typically heart-warming, feel-good, cosy stories, exactly the kind of reading I love at any time of year but especially at Christmas, wrapped up warm, snuggled up with a good book. Christmas at Lilac Cottage was no different to what I was expecting in that it was just as beautifully uplifting as ever. It’s another fab book from Holly and really, you don’t ever doubt that’s going to happen because she’s constantly writing books that you know will have likeable characters, situations that will make you giggle and an ending that will bring a big smile to your face.

We’re placed straight into the story, into the life of Penny Meadows, at home in Lilac Cottage. She’s renting out the annex and is waiting on the arrival of Henry and Daisy – hoping she can make some friends. Though the beautiful town of White Cliff Bay is quite closed in and everyone knows each other, Penny does feel lonely at times, partly I felt because she’s very guarded and cuts herself off after some rumours spread after a previous relationship. With that, you can tell how much she’s looking forward to greeting Henry and Daisy and instantly, I found that I liked Penny. She had such a warm character, welcoming and inviting and the signs of vulnerability that she showed were endearing. Along with that, I found Penny to be a really interesting character rather than a weak character. Penny’s an ice carver, and I found that aspect to this book to be completely fascinating. I loved the insight we got into the unusual job, something I’ve never read about before, and the research Holly had put in seemed really evident. Penny also showed plenty of signs that her character and spirit wasn’t completely hidden by a sense of loneliness – she was still bubbly and funny and didn’t take the majority of things too seriously, which made her feel more like a friend rather than someone you’d only sympathise with.

I loved the three main characters in this book. Henry and Daisy were equally entertaining characters – Henry being the traditional Holly Martin hero; funny, sexy and mightily swoonworthy… Besides that (if I can just forget about *those* points for a minute), his relationship with his daughter was really lovely and I liked how much he would always reach out to protect her. Certain moments in this book between Henry and Daisy really made me smile and nod because I could relate to the father-daughter bond and it was written well. Occasionally, I thought Henry was a bit too protective of Daisy when really, she seemed to handle things maturely, but then at other times, I could understand it more because Daisy was only sixteen and though she could act more responsibly than that, it didn’t mean that was always going to be the case. And dads worry, obviously, so it was realistic too. Daisy played a really important role in this book and I liked getting to know her character, too, and seeing the bond grow between her and her dad and her and Penny. Special mentions also go to two other characters I loved, in Jill (everyone needs a Jill!), and Bernard, Penny’s loveable dog who stole my heart (almost as much as Henry did). Characterisation, as usual, was a winner from Holly and made this book a joy to read.

The way this story transpires is predictable, there’s no hiding it, but that’s meant in the nicest way because though you may know where the book is going to end up, you also completely, wholeheartedly, want it to end up that way. I knew the way I wanted this book to end, Holly knows the way her readers would want the book to end, and as ever we’re not let down. Christmas at Lilac Cottage is such a gorgeous book. Books that make you happy in the most natural of ways, that make you laugh and feel and fall for the characters, they are the kind of books made for the festive season and that’s why the tagline on this book is spot on because it’s the ideal book to curl up by the fire with, to make you feel snug and smiley and content and satisfied. The setting of White Cliff Bay is magical and wonderful. Christmas really lit up the town and there were so many simple, festive touches added to this book that inject you with the high spirits and happiness that Christmas is meant to bring. White Cliff Bay would make the perfect Christmas retreat and I could just picture it now – all lit up for Christmas, warm drinks in abundance, a community brought together to give the best food, the best pressies, the best entertainment and a few of Henry’s dodgy mince pies thrown in too. I’m already dreaming of my Christmas escape to this fictional town and Christmas at Lilac Cottage is a great book to re-read during the festive season, especially if you’re feeling a bit down and not all that ready to celebrate. Along with the quick wit and the masses of funny moments Holly includes in this book, there’s also a love story building and it was so sweet and sexy and gorgeous – like, I didn’t want anything else to happen other than that happy ending. Christmas at Lilac Cottage had it all but mostly, it was romantic storytelling at its very best and a true Christmassy delight to read.

I loved every moment of this romantic festive treat

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