Book Review: The Christmas Swap by Sandy Barker

Today I am excited to share another festive book review, The Christmas Swap by Sandy Barker. The blurb grabbed my attention because I am a great fan of the festive film, The Holiday starring Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet where they swapped houses for the Christmas period (Iris’ cottage is the ideal writer’s home) and I always wanted to know more about Australian traditions at Christmas; something I have never come across in UK fiction.

Read on to find out more.

Trailer for The Holiday

Book Review: The Christmas Swap by Sandy Barker

The Christmas Swap by Sandy Barker

Title: The Christmas Swap

Author: Sandy Barber

Publisher: One More Chapter, HarperCollins UK

Genre: Romance, festive

Release date: 16th October 2020

Blurb:

Christmas is coming and best friends ChloeJules, and Lucy are needing change… so swapping homes for the holidays could be the perfect present for all of them!

Australian Chloe spends her Christmas in a sleepy village in Oxfordshire, England. She is totally star-struck when she discovers who lives across the road.

Lucy, who has jetted off to snowy Colorado for her dream-come-true white Christmas, is taken into the fold of Jules’s loud and brash family, discovering more about herself in a few short days than she has in years.

And Jules leaves the cold climes of Colorado to spend her Christmas on a beach with Chloe’s friends in Melbourne, finding that time away is just what she needed.

The only thing better than one Christmas romance is three, and this wonderful festive novel is perfect for fans of Sarah Morgan, Holly Martin and Karen Swan.

Purchase Links

Amazon

https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-christmas-swap

https://books.apple.com/gb/book/the-christmas-swap/id1522992097

https://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/fiction-poetry/the-christmas-swap,sandy-barker-9780008390044

https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-christmas-swap/sandy-barker/9780008390044

My Thoughts

The first chapter is a Beachesesque introduction to three young girls from different places in the world, forming a friendship that will span a lifetime and shape who they are. Strong female friendships in novels are a joy to read, and this was no exception. From the start, I was connected to them, making me turn the page.

The idea of the swap was sown when Australian Chloe’s parents abandon her over Christmas and she reveals her longing for traditional family celebrations as seen in the movies. I loved the premise of experiencing three distinctly different Christmases, especially the one in Australia. I always struggled to comprehend the notion Christmas day was in the middle of summer and celebrated without a turkey and all the trimmings. My sister lives there, and reading this novel made me feel closer to her.

These friends experience snapshots of each other’s lives and it highlights even the best friends do not share everything and there are aspects of your life you keep to yourself. There is a character for every reader to connect with and love, and I enjoyed watching them grapple the different traditions, slot into the different ways of living, and discover the closest friendships have boundaries. With stunning locations, festive atmosphere, chemistry between love interests and swoonsome embraces, it was a tonic for grey, drizzly Autumn days and perfect escapism.

Would I recommend?

Yes! This is my first experience of this author, but I loved her style. This book is an entertaining, refreshing read, and with three Christmas stories in one, how could I not love it? It is on for my forever shelf for a reread in the future.

Author Biography

Sandy Barker

Sandy Barker is a writer, traveller and hopeful romantic with a lengthy bucket list. She loves exploring new places, outdoor adventures, and eating and drinking like a local when she travels, and many of her travel adventures have found homes in her novels. She’s also an avid reader, film buff, wine lover and coffee snob.

Social Media Links –

https://twitter.com/sandybarker

https://www.facebook.com/sandybarkerauthor

https://www.instagram.com/sandybarkerauthor

https://sandybarker.com/

Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources and One More Chapter for my advanced copy so I could give my honest and unbiased opinion.

If you would like to find out more about this book and Sandy Barker, why not visit other blogs on this tour.

Have you had your own Christmas swap and experienced a different festive day? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading and stay safe!

Love

Book Extract: Christmas at Lock Keeper’s Cottage by Lucy Coleman

I am excited to share with you an extract from Lucy Coleman’s new festive novel, Christmas at Lock Keeper’s Cottage. I have read a few of Lucy Coleman’s books and they always sizzle with festive cheer.

Christmas at Lock Keeper’s Cottage by Lucy Coleman

Christmas at Lock Keeper’s Cottage by Lucy Coleman

Title: Christmas at Lock Keeper’s Cottage

Author: Lucy Coleman

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Genre: Festive Romance

Release date: 3rd September 2020

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3fGdGvu

Blurb

Join us for Christmas in the Cotswolds in this perfect festive escape, from the bestselling Lucy Coleman.

Imogen Tolliman never knew her mother. And when an accident robs Immi of her father too, she goes to live with her grandfather, Tollie, in his picturesque lock-keeper’s cottage by the Aysbury marina. 

Tollie is the star of the Santa Ahoy Special each Christmas – a festive boat ride along the canal that enthralls both children and adults alike. And as Immi grows up, she starts to appreciate the magical community she is lucky enough to live in. 

When Immi meets Gray Adams, she instantly realises he’s someone special. And as their relationship gets serious, they start to plan for the Christmas to beat all Christmases.  

But as the day approaches, and the romantic snow showers turn into blizzards, their dream of a Christmas to remember, looks set to be one they’ll never forget – for all the wrong reasons. Can they salvage the festivities, or will old secrets that are finally uncovered turn Immi’s life upside down forever?

Let Lucy Coleman transport you away to a dreamy Cotswolds Christmas full of snowflakes and secretslog fires, mistletoe, friends and much-loved traditions. Perfect for all fans of Trisha Ashley, Holly Martin and Sue Moorcroft. 

Extract from Christmas at Lock Keeper’s Cottage

‘Right, what can I get for you, Immi?’

‘One of your surf and turf sharing platters and a bottle of something special, please. I don’t suppose the Christmas beers have arrived yet?’

Our community is very proud to have a celebrated microbrewery virtually on our doorstep. The Middle Norton Brewing Company have made a real name for themselves and it’s become quite an attraction for the marina.

Sarah nods her head. ‘This morning. Two Santa’s Helpers? Or how about trying the new one – The Bullrush Christmas Brew?’

‘You didn’t!’ I exclaim.

‘We did. We put the proposal to Pete and David, and they thought it was a great idea. Ten pence from every bottle sold will be donated to The Santa Ahoy Christmas charity fund. When Tollie pops in later, Kurt is going to tell him the news. And Pete just rang to say they are going to run a promotion on it via their stockists, which will run into January.’

‘Wow, thank you, Sarah. I mean, that’s simply amazing.’

‘What’s amazing?’

I spin around and it’s as if a cloud of happiness has wafted in through the door. Gray throws his arms around me, lifting me off the floor as he raises me up to plant a kiss firmly on my lips.

‘I’m back. What’s happening?’ He pulls away, tilting his head to peer over my shoulder. ‘Hi, Sarah, you’re looking good, and busy. Have the Christmas beers arrived yet?’

‘It’s great to see you, Gray. And yes, Immi just placed your order and it’s on the way. Grab a table quickly, guys, I’ve just cleared one upstairs.’ Sarah nods towards the door and a large group about to step through.

‘Will do. Catch up with you later, Sarah,’ Gray calls over his shoulder. Grabbing my hand, he leads me upstairs.

As my foot hits the last tread and I look out over the canal, I get the familiar thrill I always feel to see the boats. This evening everything is right in my little world and my heart soars. I squeeze Gray’s hand and quicken my pace as he strides forward to claim the last table by the window. But before he lets me go, he spins me around into his arms and we stand there for several seconds. Resting my head against his chest and, oblivious to the background chatter, I close my eyes, savouring the moment. Just to feel the solidness of him and breathe in the smell of that lemony aftershave balm he uses is heavenly.

I hate it when we’re apart, but since last October, Gray’s life has had to revolve around his mother, Rona. She’s a lovely woman who dotes on her wonderful son. Sadly, just over a year ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After a gruelling programme of treatment, she began having the most awful panic attacks and became a virtual recluse. Gray and I put our plans on hold because family comes first. But for Gray he has had to struggle to work to keep the bills paid and be her only form of support, so it would be a lie to say it hasn’t affected our relationship. True love never dies, but it needs constant care and attention. We’ve both been miserable and lonely, but as hard as it’s been for me, it’s been even harder for Gray.

Rona has been on her own for a long time, since Gray’s father, Grayson Alexander Adams, returned to the States when his son was five years old. Gray has never been to America, or met his grandparents.

I think that’s one of the things that drew us together when we were first introduced, almost three years ago now. Neither of us have siblings and both have just the one parent figure in our lives, albeit mine is a grandparent. There’s a sense of responsibility that accompanies that, I’ve discovered as the years have passed. Granddad worries about me, but now I worry about him – constantly. It’s been the same for Gray. He ended up having to move back into his family home, as Rona floundered to cope with day-to-day living. And suddenly, it wasn’t just our plans for last Christmas that fell apart, but our dream was put on hold.

I try not to dwell on the seemingly impossible question over whether Gray and I will ever be able to get together as a couple, permanently. Rona won’t consider leaving the house she’s lived in since the day Gray was born and Tollie, well, the marina has been his life for more than fifty years. He’s spent the last thirteen years making sure I’m okay, but as time passes our respective roles have begun to change.

Author Biography

Lucy Coleman

Lucy Coleman is a #1 bestselling romance writer, whose recent novels include Snowflakes over Holly Cove. She also writes under the name Linn B. Halton. She won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award and lives in the Welsh Valleys.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/LucyColemanAuthor

https://www.instagram.com/lucycolemanauthor/

lucycolemanromance.com

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/lucy-coleman

http://bit.ly/LucyColemanNewsletter

Thanks Rachel Random Resources and Boldwood Books for inviting me to this tour.

Happy Reading and stay safe!

Love

Book Review: Snowflakes Over Moondance Cottage by Rosie Green

This is the first book I have read from Rosie Green and I am pleased to share my review for her festive novel Snowflakes Over Moondance Cottage.

Book Review: Snowflakes Over Moondance Cottage by Rosie Green

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Snowflakes Over Moondance Cottage

Title: Snowflakes Over Moondance Cottage

Author: Rosie Green

Genre: Festive Romance

Blurb:

When Jess Thornton’s dad was lost at sea, the family coped in different ways, alone in their grief. Now, her mum seems to be going off the rails and her sister, Isla, who moved to France, is now back and determined to get their old family home on the market. But the last thing Jess wants this Christmas is for renovations to start on the house. It’s sure to stir up all sorts of memories she’s desperate to avoid. And to make things worse, Isla appears to have hired the most obnoxious builder in the world to do the work. Jess could ignore the fact that women seem to be putty in his hands. But what she finds harder to ignore is the frisson she gets every time she squeezes past him in the mess that is now their beloved old home! Can the family finally start talking and find a way to move on from the past this Christmas?

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Snowflakes-over-Moondance-Cottage-sparkling-ebook/dp/B07XGDZ4Z2

US – https://www.amazon.com/Snowflakes-over-Moondance-Cottage-sparkling-ebook/dp/B07XGDZ4Z2

My Thoughts

This novel follows grieving Jess, whose father is assumed dead after a boating accident. She was easy to connect to so I slipped into the story early on. Her quiet, settled life is turned upside down with the arrival of Seb,the hunky builder and the bombshell her sister wants to sell the family home. His description and personality made it easy to see why Jess would be attracted to him. The chemistry between them made me want to continue reading after bedtime.

Isla is the opposite to Jess in many ways making the dynamics between the siblings interesting and adds to the tension as her mum’s struggle with her mental health after losing her husband. The marital relationship is slightly complicated because they both have new partners but it works well with the plot. It is an enjoyable and emotional read with the right balance of Christmas traditions to make you feel warm and Christmassy.

The descriptions of glass blowing the baubles makes me appreciate those on my tree more than usual. It was fascinating to read about.

Would I recommend?

Yes. It is a lovely story with a satisfying conclusion, ideal to read in the run up to Christmas. I love the authors style and characters so I look forward to reading more of hers in the future.

Author Biography

Rosie Green Author Pic

Rosie Green

Rosie has been scribbling stories ever since she was little.

Back then, they were rip-roaring adventure tales with a young heroine in perilous danger of falling off a cliff or being tied up by ‘the baddies’.

Thankfully, Rosie has moved on somewhat, and now much prefers to write romantic comedies that melt your heart and make you smile, with really not much perilous danger involved at all – unless you count the heroine losing her heart in love.

Rosie’s brand new series of novellas is centred around life in a village cafe. The latest, ‘Bonfires & Hot Chocolate at the Little Duck Pond Cafe’, is out now.

Watch out for ‘A Winter Wedding at the Little Duck Pond Cafe’, which will be published Christmas 2019.

Follow Rosie on Twitter – https://twitter.com/Rosie_Green1988

Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to the tour and giving me an advanced copy so I could give an honest and unbiased review. If you would like to know more about this book and author, why not visit other blogs on this tour.

Love

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