Book Review: Promise Me by Jill Mansell

With Valentine’s Day only a couple of weeks away and the Enchanted Emporium gearing up for love potions and heart decorations galore, Rosa was ecstatic to discover an ARC of Promise Me by Jill Mansell, one of her go to authors in her Box of Romance. Thank you Random Things Tour and the invite to this blog tour.

Scroll down to see of Rosa’s happiness was well earned or short lived once she’d finished reading.

Book Review: Promise Me by Jill Mansell

Book cover for Jill Mansell's Promise Me. A predominantly teal cover with gold lettering. An illustrated painted tree with red and yellow, green leaves. A swing hangs from a branch and a white and black dog is standing nearby
Promise Me by Jill Mansell

Title: Promise Me

Author: Jill Mansell

Publisher: Headline Review

Genre: Romance

Release date: 19th Jan 2023

Blurb

Fate’s about to make mischief…

One minute Lou is happily employed, with a perfect flat. The next, her home and job have gone. Suddenly she has
to start over.
The last thing Lou wants is to move to a tiny Cotswolds village. She certainly doesn’t intend to work for curmudgeonly eighty-year-old Edgar Allsopp. But Edgar is about to make her the kind of promise nobody could ignore. In
return, she secretly vows to help him fall in love with life again.
Foxwell is also home to Remy, whose charm and charisma are proving hard to ignore. But Lou hasn’t recovered
from the last time she fell for a charmer. She needs a distraction – and luckily one’s about to turn up.
Secrets never stay hidden for long in Foxwell, nor are promises always kept. And no one could guess what lies ahead.

Thoughts from the Emporium

This was Rosa’s first book she read this year and what a joy it was. From the moment she was introduced to caring Lou and grumpy, and manipulative Edgar, she knew she was reading a book she could to escape into and enjoy the ride, away from the cold weather and hectic home life. What a ride it was. With Edgar’s unique offer, and complex past loves and future ones, there were plenty of twists and unexpected turns to keep Rosa on her toes before the much needed happy ever after. 

Written with warmth, there was a cast of characters to adore and hate, and each had depth and a relatable backstory that made it easy to invest in their happiness or downfall. Whether it was the friendly banter or deeper love, the dialogue felt natural immersing Rosa further into the characters’ lives and zipping through the pages. Lou with a big heart was easily liked and Rosa’s initial dislike for curmudgeon (such a good word) Edgar mellowed the more she knew him, but it was Captain Oates who stole the show. He made Rosa laugh with his standoffish attitude and unwavering sense of self, reminding her of a beloved childhood pet. 

This book is a heart-warming, thought provoking and uplifting read about lost loves, second chance relationships and starting over which makes it an ideal read for the beginning of the year and run up to to Valentine’s Day. Pure fun and escapism. It’ll be well loved by many who visit her Box of Romance.

Author Biography

Photo of Jill Mansell. White woman with should length, layered very blonde hair, pink lipstick. Smiling and wearing a blue patterned blouse.
Jill Mansell

Jill Mansell has been writing Sunday Times bestsellers for over twenty years, most recently
Should I Tell You? Her hobbies include exploring the Cotswolds and the south west of
England, scouting for locations for future books, and discovering brilliant new restaurants
along the way. She lives in Bristol with her family.


Twitter @Jill Mansell
Facebook /OfficialJillMansell
Instagram @JillMansell

Other blogs on the tour.
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Book Review: A Season for Love by Ally Sinclair

We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to be on this blog tour for Ally Sinclair’s novel, A Season for Love. A huge thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources for the invite and book arriving in Rosa’s Box of Romance so they could give an honest opinion. Everyone is still recovering from her ear shattering squeal when she read the blurb – Regency dating in our modern world, what more could she ask for?

Scroll down to see if A Season for Love hit her high expectations.

Book Review: A Season for Love by Ally Sinclair

Book cover for  A Season for Love by Ally Sinclair. Dark blue background, white title with tagline Can old-fashioned courtship flourish in today's dating world?
Heavily stylised illustration of a woman with long brown hair next to man in a blue shirt (for some reason they have no facial features except for her lips???)
A Season for Love by Ally Sinclair

Book title: A Season for Love

Author: Ally Sinclair

Publisher: Hera

Genre: Romance

Release date: 12th January 2023

Purchase Links

AMZ: https://amzn.to/3CZyknz

Apple: https://apple.co/3Txu7ys

Hive: https://bit.ly/3z9y8Ry

Blurb

Can old-fashioned courtship survive in today’s dating world?

When Emma Love’s mother retires, it is time for her to take the reins of the family dating agency and build on its success. And she has a fresh new idea: to host a Jane Austen-style Regency Season of glamourous events where potential lovers can actually take the time to get to know each other in person, with no apps in between.

Emma has no intention of becoming romantically involved herself, of course; she is a matchmaker on the hunt for the perfect partner for ladies like Annie (who thought she had missed her chance at love a long time ago), Jane (recently divorced and nervously stepping into her new life) and wild child Lydia (more interested in hooking up than finding Mr Darcy).

As the Season unfolds, there is only one fly in Emma’s ointment – the irritating Mr Knight, with his casual attitude and gentle cynicism. Why is she allowing him to ruffle her calm, ordered life and why can’t she stop thinking about him? She is far too sensible to take a chance on love – isn’t she?

Jane Austen meets Sophie Kinsella in this laugh-out-loud, captivating romantic comedy.

Thoughts from the Emporium

During those lockdown years, Bridgerton mania swept through the Emporium encouraged by the over excited Rosa, high on romance, the sexy Duke and the promise of a HEA with dancing and jewels. Willow watched it under duress but was sucked into its escapism and the allure of the Duke while Amber refused to admit she’d even watched it, never mind twice, and even then she was only watching for the costumes and creative inspiration for her art. This brings us to the reaction of the Emporium surrounding A Season for Love.

It was a hit and met the high expectations Rosa set. Matchmaker Emma drew them in with her Regency styled scheme for people to find love, after all everyone secretly longed to attend a ball with its glamour and then the other characters carried the plot with its surprises, warmth and underlying chemistry.

With multiple protagonists there was at least one each the staff could relate to whether it was because of their view on love or backstory. Each character was fully formed and realistic, giving the reader a snapshot into their often complex lives and making them root for their happy ever after ending.

Like the characters, each potential love match and chemistry between suiters was different from Annie with her lost childhood love to wild and fiercely independent Lydia and her hot barman. All share the realistic emotions, sensitivity to issues the characters face and sexual chemistry despite it being close door.  

The events Emma organised to promote love were inspired and only wish they were real and could come to Yorkshire.

A Season for Love is a warm romantic novel about connections, friendship and love blended with Regency ethics and humour. And like the Netflix Regency series, has left the Emporium eager to read the next one.* It will be a well-loved book in Rosa’s Box of Romance and on Rosa’s own physical forever shelf.

*Even Amber who only tends to enjoy romances if they’re dripping with vampiric chemistry or spellbound with magic or spookiness and horror.

Author Biography

Photo of Ally Sinclair. A white woman very smiley with brown shoulder length hair, wearing a black and white striped shirt
Ally Sinclair

Ally grew up on the North Yorkshire coast and now lives with her husband in Worcestershire, at least until she can persuade him to give into her yearning to live somewhere nearer the sea. No kids, no pets. She sometimes manages to keep a pot plant alive. Briefly. She has been writing professionally since 2013, and is also published as Alison May and, in collaboration, as Juliet Bell. Ally is a former Chair of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and currently works as an associate lecturer for the Open University.

Social Media Links –

@MsAllySinclair – https://twitter.com/MsAllySinclair

@MsAlisonMay – https://twitter.com/MsAlisonMay

https://www.facebook.com/allysinclairauthor/

https://www.facebook.com/AlisonMayAuthor

Instagram @MsAllySinclair and @MsAlisonMay

TikTok https://www.tiktok.com/@msallysinclair

YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCihOmLXaNIqXKqdnekC4wJQ

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@nlcraigwrites
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Book Review: There’s No Place Like Home by Jane Lovering

After chatting to Jane Lovering on Monday over a large mug of Yorkshire tea during our Monday Merry Meet, we’re excited to share our review of her new book, There’s No Place Like Home. Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources for the blog tour invite and providing a copy to read.

Book Review: There’s No Place Like Home by Jane Lovering

There’s No Place Like Home by Jane Lovering

Title: There’s No Place Like Home

Author: Jane Lovering

Publisher: Boldwood books

Genre: Woman’s fiction, romance

Release date: 10th January 2023

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3FsnZU2 

Blurb:

Isabel, Izzy to her friends, has got nothing left to lose when she makes the bravest decision of her life.

A month living under canvas on the Yorkshire Moors with five strangers wouldn’t normally be her idea of a good time, even if there is prize money to be won at the end of it, but she’s all out of options.

Joining her in this wild goose chase, being filmed for a TV show, are farmer Seb, whose marriage is creaking but who is desperate not to lose his family. Sheltered Ruth who needs an opportunity to show she can make her own decisions. Glamorous socialite Kanga, who has been living a lie. American Junior who has his own secret that has led him there. And last but not least, mysterious and brooding Mac, who Izzy can’t help but be drawn to.

As the fickleness of nature tests them all to their limits, this disparate group come together to face the challenge. But when Izzy finally tells them the truth that has brought her out on the Moors, will that be the end of their adventure, or the beginning of her future? Because what Izzy really needs is a place to call home, and someone to share it with could be even better…

Thoughts from the Emporium

Last year The Forgotten House on the Moor appeared on the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf and we all loved it so when There’s No Place Like Home arrived in Rosa’s Box of Romance, Willow and her had to flip a coin to see who would read it first. Rosa won. With high expectations, this novel didn’t disappoint.

Within pages, both were hooked into Izzy’s life and the stark realities of camping in the Yorkshire moors in horrid weather, with strangers tracking down a potential mythical creature for a TV prize. Jane Lovering has a talent for world building and providing a strong sense of place. With knowledge of the locality, Rosa and Willow can both say it is an accurate depiction of the moors and its atmosphere. Even snuggled under the duvet, Rosa found herself shivering when Izzy and company are faced with bad weather thanks to the immersive writing.

Six strangers living in close quarters with sporadic appearances of the camera crew and film staff provided a memorable cast for this original novel, plenty of drama and clashes of personalities. They all have a backstory and reasons for joining the show, including Izzy. As a protagonist, she had depth and everyone connected to her and wanted her to have a happy ever after she sought after. Sprinkled with humour, deeper themes are blended in this uplifting novel with care and realism. Despite the weather and camping trials, romance blooms and the slow burn chemistry between Izzy and Seb is just right for their story.

This unique novel was an ideal read to start the year and a welcome addition to Rosa’s Box of Romance where the love will be shared with visitors to the Emporium. It will be a hit. After chatting to Jane on Monday, everyone is already looking forward to her next one and if you read her chat you’ll understand why.

Author Biography

Photo of Jane Lovering.  White woman with red dotty bandana cuddling a black and white Patterdale Terrier in a autumn background
Jane Lovering

Jane Lovering is the bestselling and award-winning romantic comedy writer who won the RNA Novel of the Year Award in 2012 with Please Don’t Stop the Music. She lives in Yorkshire and has a cat and a bonkers terrier, as well as five children who have now left home.

Social Media Links   

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Jane-Lovering-Author-106404969412833

Twitter https://twitter.com/janelovering

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/JaneLoveringNews

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jane-lovering

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Monday Merry Meet: Jane Lovering

Now the chaos of Yule and the New Year is over, we are delighted to share our first Monday Merry Meet of 2023. Today Jane Lovering, author of 25 books has popped in for a chat about her books, writing and of course magic. We all fell in love with her The Forgotten House on the Moor, a romance with a ghost hunting twist last year and can’t wait to read her new release, There’s No Place Like Home.

Grab yourself a cuppa and join us to discover more about this author.

Monday Merry Meet: Jane Lovering

Willow: Welcome Jane, we’re so excited to have you here. I hope you’re not allergic to cats. Vincent, our lumbering Maine Coon, has taken to sleeping on the sofa in the staffroom. Amber will move him out of the way so you can sit down.

Jane: I love Whitby! It’s not that far from where I live, so I can call it research, wandering down the little old streets and popping into the wonderful crooked little shops in the Old Town. Oh, and I’m not at all allergic to cats – in fact I’ve had them all my life. I don’t have one now because Current Dog is a Patterdale Terrier and the only response to hearing that someone owns a Patterdale is ‘oh dear, I am sorry.’ She’s a fiend. Vincent can sit on my lap if he likes.

Photo of a ginger Maine Coon
Vincent

Willow: Be prepared to be squashed by him then. He loves attention. What would you like to drink? We have Yorkshire tea, herbal tea, coffee or something stronger. Since Christmas we have some homemade sloe gin left or wine.

Jane: I can’t drink alcohol at all, so I’ll have a big mug of Yorkshire Tea, please. Very strong, no sugar, hardly any milk. I have the tea palate of a jobbing builder. Oh, and if you’ve got any biscuits…

Amber: One mug of builder’s tea coming up and we always have biscuits.  

Photo of biscuits and a mug of tea
Image by Benjamin Nelan from Pixabay

Rosa: I’ve just finished your new book, There’s No Place like Home. It is set on the Yorkshire moors and, like your other books, has a wonderful sense of place. Do you spend a lot of time in potential locations to capture their atmosphere? Where is your favourite spot?

Jane: Most of my books are set around where I live, or within a few minutes’ walk/drive. I spend a LOT of time walking and running locally (see under ‘Patterdale terrier owner’) and it all serves to help me absorb atmosphere and scenery. Although when I’m running, I’m mostly sweating and swearing, to be honest. I don’t really have a favourite place, I love all the moors and fields and becks and dales and woods around me. It depends on my mood. Sometimes the exposed bleakness of the moors is best, and sometimes I just want some rustling woodland with leaves, and squirrels to chase. Er, for the dog, not me.

Willow: Your new protagonist, Izzy, joins a reality show to track down big cats wild in the British countryside. What was your inspiration for this idea?

Jane: A friend is fascinated by Bigfoot and watches a lot of those ‘Hunting Bigfoot’ programmes. He suggested that I wrote about a British Bigfoot hunt, but I’m just a wee bit more sceptical than he is. However, I know people who’ve seen what they have sworn are big cats out in the countryside, and I thought that finding one of these might make a good story. Then I needed to work out the how and the why – and came up with a reality TV show. They always seem to feature people doing ridiculous things that nobody would ever want to do in the normal course of events, and people will seemingly do anything for money…

Rosa: Among other things, this novel tackles homelessness. Was it something you planned to cover to raise awareness of the situation people find themselves in, or did it develop while writing about Izzy?

Jane: My characters tend to come to me fully formed, so I already knew that Izzy was homeless. The only thing I had to work out was how it came about, and come up with a way that was plausible – a way which would make many readers think ‘that could have been me’.

Amber: You’ve written 25 books. What has your publication journey been like? If you did it again, would you change anything?

Jane: D’you know, I don’t think I would? I’ve been very very lucky, and I’ve met such wonderful people and made such good friends along the way, that I don’t think I’d have anything any different – other than maybe have it happen twenty years earlier!

Willow: We always love hearing about author’s day. Do you have a strict your writing routine?

Jane: Well, it’s not ‘strict’ because I don’t believe in beating myself up over it, but I tend to wake up, make a big mug of tea and then go back to bed with the dog and my laptop. I try to write 1000 words a day, and then I’m up and out for a run with the dog and then off to work (I don’t start work until 3pm before you think I’m one of these ‘early risers’ whom I swear are a myth).

A pile of books
Image by Rick Stefanie from Pixabay

Amber: I dabble in writing. Do you have any advice for novice writers?

Jane: Read read read. Not just in the genre you want to write, but anything and everything. Biographies, ‘How To’ books, novels, poetry – every word you read informs the writer you become. Oh, and don’t ask for feedback on your writing from family, or anyone who might die at your hand if they criticise you. Find a beta reader or writing partner who is not emotionally invested in you – they are the only people who will be honest. Joining a writers’ group can be helpful, but it depends on the group – avoid any with loud, dominant characters who are only there to read their work and be told how wonderful they are.

Willow: Great advice and an ideal excuse to visit bookshops guilt free. Whitby has a delightful one. The Enchanted Emporium sells several candles in The Wishing Spell range which promise to help your day go smoothly. Which would you choose?

Jane: I live alone in a tiny little cottage (well, I’ve got the dog…) so I’m fine for peace and tranquillity, I sleep very well (because it’s so quiet), and I believe in making my own luck and security. I think it would have to be focus and concentration because I can be – how shall we put it politely? – a wee bit scatty and disorganised.

Willow: One candle invokes memories of your perfect holiday or day when lit. Where would it take you?

Jane: I’m not sure. I think my life is pretty perfect at the moment, actually! Possibly it would remind me of Christmases, spent with all my children around me, eating food, playing games and laughing. If it could blank out the hours of cooking, the arguing, the mess and the washing up, that would be nice too.

Amber: Ghosts and paranormal activity plague The Enchanted Emporium. Have had had any spooky experiences – did it influence your writing The Forgotten House on the Moor and other books?

Jane: A few minor happenings that I couldn’t explain – this is a very old cottage and I’ve had the usual amount of strange window and door openings, knockings and clonks. Over the years, I’ve seen things which might have been supernatural, and I have a belief that we don’t understand everything about the world beyond us. That sense of mystery, of enquiry and the ‘maybe’ runs through a lot of my books.

Willow: Your cottage sounds delightful. Unlike your character, Holly Grey in Hubble Bubble, we don’t dabble with magic, it’s in our blood. Bearing that in mind, if we could blend a potion to give you a superpower or special ability for 24 hours what would it be and what would you do with it?

Jane: I would like to be able to see the world through the eyes of animals. To experience what they do and understand how they see us. I think it might help me to understand why they seem to be such irrational creatures – I’d love to sit up trees with squirrels and stomp along with badgers and skitter about with the ponies!

Willow: I think I’d have to join you with that superpower, experiencing Whitby through the eyes of Vincent or some of the wild birds would be eye opening. What book would you add to The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf?

Jane: You’ve probably got them all! But I’m reading a book at the moment called ‘Mythology of the British Isles’ by Geoffrey Ashe, about the history of folklore in Britain and the origin of myths, which is fascinating.

Willow: That’s one we don’t have but it sounds like it’s a need.

Rosa: I have a Box of Romance books I share with friends and customers. What would you add to it?

Jane: That’s too hard! That’s like asking me to choose my favourite child! I have so many friends who write amazing romances, that I couldn’t possibly select just a few, it wouldn’t be fair.

Willow: It can be a cruel question. And finally, what are you working on currently? Or is it top secret?

Jane: My next book is with my editor and awaiting edits, but I’m actually currently writing a book set on Orkney, about a witch’s cottage, the person who inherits it and what happens when she does. It might be right up your street!

Willow: It truly does and we can’t wait to read it. I hope the writing goes well and you’ll have to pop back and tell us all about it.

Book cover for There's No Place Like Home.
Blue to lilac gradient sky, snowy moorland with small white cottage. One man in a green coat and red bobble hat sits on a bench with a woman on pink coat, hat and red wellies.
There’s No Place Like Home by Jane Lovering

Title: There’s No Place Like Home

Author: Jane Lovering

Publisher: Boldwood books

Genre: Woman’s fiction, romance

Release date: 10th January 2023

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3FsnZU2 

Blurb:

Isabel, Izzy to her friends, has got nothing left to lose when she makes the bravest decision of her life.

A month living under canvas on the Yorkshire Moors with five strangers wouldn’t normally be her idea of a good time, even if there is prize money to be won at the end of it, but she’s all out of options.

Joining her in this wild goose chase, being filmed for a TV show, are farmer Seb, whose marriage is creaking but who is desperate not to lose his family. Sheltered Ruth who needs an opportunity to show she can make her own decisions. Glamorous socialite Kanga, who has been living a lie. American Junior who has his own secret that has led him there. And last but not least, mysterious and brooding Mac, who Izzy can’t help but be drawn to.

As the fickleness of nature tests them all to their limits, this disparate group come together to face the challenge. But when Izzy finally tells them the truth that has brought her out on the Moors, will that be the end of their adventure, or the beginning of her future? Because what Izzy really needs is a place to call home, and someone to share it with could be even better…

Author Biography

Photo of Jane Lovering.  White woman with red dotty bandana cuddling a black and white Patterdale Terrier in a autumn background
Jane Lovering

Jane Lovering is the author of 25 novels and novellas, which she calls ‘dark psychological romance, with jokes’. She lives in North Yorkshire, where many of her books are set, in a creaky old cottage with an obsessive Patterdale Terrier and a lot of cobwebs. She has won four Romantic Novel of the Year awards, likes biscuits and running (cause and effect) and Tony Robinson. Jane is actually a very nice person, despite her tendency to snarl ‘what do you want?’ out of open windows whilst holding back a growling dog with one hand. Honestly.

Social Media Links   

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Jane-Lovering-Author-106404969412833

Twitter https://twitter.com/janelovering

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/JaneLoveringNews

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jane-lovering

Monday Merry Meet: Jeanna Louise Skinner

It’s the last Monday before Christmas and the Enchanted Emporium is hectic with customers wanting last minute presents, candles for calm and lotions to help have a happy day. We’re delighted to have a tea break to chat to paranormal romance author, Jeanna Louise Skinner. Her debut novel, The Book Boyfriend was recommended by Kiley Dunbar in her Monday Merry Meet so we’re looking forward to knowing more.

Monday Merry Meet: Jeanna Louise Skinner

Mug with a reindeer on it next to some teabags
Image by Luisella Planeta LOVE PEACE 💛💙 from Pixabay

Willow: Hi Jeanna, come in. Can we get you a drink? We have our own blends of tea, Yorkshire tea, as no one can beat that for a proper cuppa, coffee or something different?

Jeanna: Thank you so much for that lovely warm welcome, Willow. I’m delighted to be here. I adore your magical emporium and regularly find myself getting lost in all the mysterious nooks and crannies as a visitor, so it’s lovely to drop in with my author hat on. I’d kill for a decent cuppa but decaf if you possibly have it. Milk, no sugar, please.

Willow: Your debut novel, The Book Boyfriend, is a paranormal romance. What drew you to that genre?

Jeanna: I’ve always loved all things magical and mysterious. Some of my favourite movies growing up were Mannequin, Splash and Big. You know, the kind of film where the fantastical happens, but it’s within the real world. I love high fantasy too, but I feel like there’s something whimsical about grounded fantasy or paranormal. Something about the “What If” nature of the supernatural that resonates in my soul. I used to enjoy the spookier side of the supernatural more when I was younger and ate up shows like The X Files, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more chicken and I can’t do the scary stuff anymore. I still want all those Will-They-Won’t-They Mulder and Scully feels though, and Paranormal Romance gives me the hit of magic that I’m looking for with the HEA endings I crave. My sweet spot is Cosy Paranormal/Fantasy Romance and my personal brand is that but featuring plus-size and neurodiverse characters.

Willow: I loved those films and watched all of them on repeat as a teenager.

Amber: The Book Boyfriend contains our favourite things, bookshops, magic and romance. And to top it off, it has a map. Can you tell us a bit more about it?

Jeanna: The Book Boyfriend is the book of my heart.

It’s very meta in that it’s about a romance-loving bookworm who wants to write but who struggles to put her messy thoughts on to paper. There’s a throwback swoon-worthy, brooding historical hero who literally, magically appears out of the book the heroine is reading, plus a grumpy bookshop cat. The idea came from a conversation with an old friend years ago where she was lamenting the fact that the real life men she knew couldn’t match up to her fantasy heroes and that her book boyfriends just couldn’t be real. It was literally a lightbulb moment in my head. And I set it in a bookshop because there’s no place which feels more magical to me (except for possibly a library).

The map was kind of a happy accident. The Book Boyfriend is set in Exeter where I live. It’s a beautiful old city with so much history but I feel it’s often overlooked in literature, so I mined Exeter’s very rich historical seam for titbits and plot bunnies. The cathedral plays an important role in the story, as do the centuries old underground passages, both of which are major tourist attractions here today. And of course, I had to delve into Exeter and Devon’s abundance of ghost stories and folklore.

My husband is born and bred here and even though he’s not an illustrator by trade, I know he’s talented at drawing. I mentioned to him one day that I’d love to put a map of Exeter in the book; one which shows the then and now of Exeter in the 16th century and how it’s changed today. Well, let’s just say he rose to the challenge in true book boyfriend fashion. I’m thrilled with how it turned out and all the little details he included. If you look closely, you can even see a tiny horse and cart figure near the cathedral.

I wrote this book to be a love letter to Romance and included loads of Easter eggs for book lovers to find. And there’s even a choice of covers because I know how some Romance fans love a clinch cover with a real-life couple, but others prefer the cartoon Illustrated style.

Open book in candlelight. The pages are bent to form a heart

Willow: It sounds fabulous and everything a magic loving romantic bookworm desires. Unlike many romance books,  Emmeline isn’t your petite and neurotypical heroine. How important do you think representation of everyone is in fiction?

Jeanna: In many ways Emmeline is me. I tried very hard not to make her a self insert, but she’s the me I always wanted to read in books. Of course, there are lots of ways where we’re not alike, but she means a lot to me as a character. It’s my hope that others will read her story and see themselves in her, especially in her strength, because she’s unbelievably resilient and resourceful.

Emmeline has schizophrenia, a mental illness which is still very highly stigmatised and misunderstood. I’ve already mentioned my brand being plus-size and neurodiverse paranormal romance, and I stand by this. I’m privileged in lots of ways but I’m also marginalised in others. Namely, being plus-size, neurodiverse and disabled. If my stories can make just one person feel seen or represented in a positive light, it will all be worth it. We need diverse books isn’t just a throwaway slogan. It truly matters. I’m proud of the work that myself and others – especially indie authors – are doing to bring positive representation to publishing, but I feel that traditional publishing still has a way to go.

Willow: Yule has arrived here in the Emporium and Whitby is full of Christmas cheer. Are you someone who enjoys the festivities or more bah humbug?

Jeanna: I adore Christmas! I’m a big traditionalist and I used to go all out making my own mince pies, Christmas cakes and having the perfectly decorated tree etc, but I’ve had to take a step back these days because of my health. So now I try to take joy from the smaller things. My very favourite part of Christmas is that feeling when you find the perfect present for someone, the anticipation of them opening it and their eyes lighting up when they do. It feels magical to me. Very much like when you know someone is The One or that moment when I strike gold whilst writing – which doesn’t happen often enough, unfortunately.

Willow: There are so many different ways to be published nowadays. What has your journey been like? If you did it again, would you change anything?

Jeanna: Oh goodness, that’s a long and complicated story so I’ll try to keep it brief. I started out like many aspiring authors in that I went down the querying route. I spent a lot of getting down and dirty in those trenches and I still have the scars to prove it. I thought I’d made it when a small indie publisher showed interest in The Book Boyfriend. It was so exciting. I was finally a real published author, but months after my dream came true, my publisher closed. I got my rights back relatively quickly and easily and I’m so grateful for that. I know so many authors who’ve had nightmares where returning rights are concerned. So, in March I became a self published author. It was never on my radar to self publish. My health issues mean I have limited spoons and time to devote to pretty much everything and I knew self publishing would mean a LOT of hard work, so it wasn’t really what I wanted. But I’m here now and I wouldn’t say I’m thriving as an indie author. Surviving, maybe? So I’m taking each day as it comes and I’m truly grateful for all my readers, followers, friends and family who are cheering me on.

Willow: That is some journey, and we wish you all the luck in your indie career. I am very ritualistic in my day. Do you have writing rituals to help you write?

Jeanna: Absolutely none. The only thing I do need is relative peace and quiet to write otherwise I’m as scattergun as it comes with my writing process.

Amber: We’ve spoken to many would be authors this year. Do you have any advice for new writers?

Jeanna: The best bit of advice I’ve ever been given and something that’s much easier to say than do:

WTFB – Write The F##king Book.

It’s a cliché but you can’t edit, polish, query or publish a blank page.

I just wish I would listen to my own advice more!

Amber: I need to remember that one.

Willow: We sell a number of candles in The Wishing Spell range which promise to help your day go smoothly. Which would you choose?

Jeanna: Anything that keeps my ADHD brain occupied on the task in hand so “Focus while the candle is burning” would be wonderful, please!

Willow:  One of candles when lit invokes memories of your perfect day? Where would it take you?

Jeanna: To Blackbury Camp in Devon, the site of an old Iron Age hillfort and an enchanting bluebell wood. We used to visit every year before I got sick. I remember spending one particularly magical early summer’s day there with a picnic and the sun beating down on us, while the boys went off looking for faeries and wisps in the trees.

Amber: The Enchanted Emporium is plagued by ghosts and paranormal activity all year round. Have had had any spooky experiences – has it influenced your writing?

Jeanna: I don’t know if it’s influenced my writing but I swear I heard (heard not saw) a werewolf once. The sound gave me the shivers. Even now it’s making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up just thinking about it.

Dark blue background. A silhouette of a wolf howling against a full moon
Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Willow:A werewolf experience is something we’ve not heard of in the Emporium but there have been several sightings in East Yorkshire. If we could blend a potion to give you a superpower or special ability for 24 hours, what would it be and what would you do with it?

Jeanna: Probably something to do with focus again because my combination of ADHD and CRPS is huge energy-sucking bummer of a cocktail. Either that or I’d like to do something amazing like time-travel.

Amber: What book would you add to The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf?

Jeanna: Probably the Gormenghast series by Mervyn Peake. I first read it as a gothy teenager and I fell completely in love with Peake’s gothic-laced fantasy world. It’s Dracula meets Game of Thrones but better than both, imho. There was a beautifully detailed BBC adaptation years ago, but I think it’s the perfect time for a new version.

Amber: I need to search for those. Thanks.

Willow: Our assistant Rosa says hi. She couldn’t be here today because she’s at her son’s Nativity, but she has a box full of romance novels for people to borrow. What would you add to Rosa’s box of Romance?

Jeanna: Oh gosh, so many. Can I choose two recent favourites?

Willow: Of course. It’s Christmas, so the more the merrier.

Jeanna: Holding on To Bluebell Lodge by Rachel Bowdler. A gorgeous enemies to lovers sapphic romance by the sea.

Just Fake Married by Marty Vee. As the title implies, it’s a fake relationship romance, but this one has all the feels, mutual pining, a New Year’s Eve kiss, only one bed and doggos. LOTS of cute doggos.

Amber: And finally, what are you working on currently? Or is it top secret?

Jeanna: I’m (not) very busy writing the first book in my new series. It’s called Pumpkin Spice and it’s book one in The Bluebloodsuckers series, which is about a modern-day European royal family who also happen to be vampires. Pumpkin Spice is a Cinderella-inspired steamy plus-size romcom with a fat, witchy, sword-forging heroine and a handsome Prince Charming who becomes a vampire when the clock strikes midnight. It’s human sunshine meets grumpy immortal and so much fun to write. I’m hoping to release it next Autumn.

I’m also writing a short story in the same series which will be published first in Hexes and Ohs, a witchy paranormal romance charity anthology from The New Romance Cafe. It’s available to preorder now and ALL the proceeds will be going to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Willow: Vampires and witches will make a great combination. Good luck with your writing and we’ll be pre-ordering Hexes and Oh’s from here. Have a lovely Christmas.  

Photo of walnuts, iced star cookies and cones.
Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Author Biography

Photo of Jeanna Louise Skinner. White woman, long curly hair wearing an orange jumper
Jeanna Louise Skinner

Jeanna Louise Skinner writes plus-size romance with a sprinkling of magic. She has CRPS and ADHD and she is passionate about writing people underrepresented in Romance, especially those with disabilities and neurodiverse conditions. She lives in Devon with her husband, their two children and a cat who sounds like a goat. Her debut plus-size paranormal romance The Book Boyfriend is out now in ebook, paperback and audio. 

Blurb:

If your fictional boyfriend came to life, could you write your own Happily Ever After?

Emmeline always dreamed of being an author, finding comfort in words and between the pages of her beloved romance novels, but a mental health diagnosis leaves her blocked and unable to write. Then she inherits a crumbling, second-hand bookshop from a mysterious old friend and Emmy discovers that magic is real. Maybe her fantasies about the heroes in her favourite historical romances aren’t so far-fetched after all?

Lord Jonathan Dalgliesh is the handsome stranger – wielding a sword as dangerous as his Tudor past – who appears in Emmy’s bookshop asking for help. Together they must race against time itself to lift the curse imprisoning him inside an ancient book. But when growing threats to Emmy’s safety are proved real and not another symptom of her illness, she must learn to trust her own voice again. Can she find the words to save Jonathan and her shop before tragedy strikes on the fateful final page? Romance-addict Emmy may be, but this damsel is about to kick distress into the Ever After.

Featuring a fierce, body-positive, fat and tall heroine; a morally-grey, swoonworthy Tudor hero; mental health rep; romance novel references galore; a dusty Devon bookshop setting; history, mystery, magic; and the grumpiest, chonkiest bookshop cat, “The Book Boyfriend” is the perfect witchy, slow burn, time-travel romance for fans of Outlander, A Discovery of Witches, Practical Magic and many more!

Social media links: 

Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@jeannalouiseskinner

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jeannalstars/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeannalouiseskinner/

Cover Reveal: One Night With Her Viking Warrior by Sarah Rodi

It’s December and the emporium is getting dressed in all its finery to celebrate Yule. Rosa was excited to be invited to a cover reveal for a potential candidate for her Box of Romance when it’s released, One Night With Her Viking Warrior by Sarah Rodi.

Are you ready to find out more? Scroll down to see.

Cover Reveal: One Night With Her Viking Warrior by Sarah Rodi

Blurb:

Her forbidden love is back to claim her!

Once Lady Rebekah shared a life changing night with stable hand Raeden but he disappeared the morning after. Now she’s consort to a cruel Saxon Lord, and when Northmen lay siege to Ryestone Keep, Rebekah’s shocked to see Raeden leading the charge! This Viking warrior is not the man she remembers, yet she finds herself drawn to him again. Taken as his hostage, Rebekah must decide: can she trust him with her life…and her dangerous secret?

Cover for One Night With Her Viking Warrior by Sarah Rodi. A viking man with long brown hair scraped back is in an embrace with red haired woman.
One Night with her Viking Warrior by Sarah Rodi

If that has intrigued you and you want to read more the purchase links are here:

https://www.millsandboon.co.uk/products/hqnsingle-07248001

https://www.harlequin.com/search.html?w=sarah+rodi

Or pre-order from Amazon, out 22nd December

https://www.amazon.co.uk/One-Night-Her-Viking-Warrior/dp/0263302083

https://www.amazon.com/Night-Viking-Warrior-Mills-Historical-ebook/dp/B0B1Z8C1HP/

Author Biography

Photo of Sarah Rodi. White woman smiling. Long mid brown hair loose.
Sarah Rodi

Sarah Rodi has always been a hopeless romantic. She grew up watching old, romantic movies recommended by her grandad, or devouring love stories from the local library. Sarah lives in the village of Cookham in Berkshire, where she enjoys walking along the River Thames with her husband, her two daughters and their dog. She has been a magazine journalist for over 20 years, but it has been her lifelong dream to write romance for Mills & Boon. Sarah believes everyone deserves to find their happy ever after.

You can contact her via @sarahrodiedits or sarahrodiedits@gmail.com.

Social Media Links

Website www.sarahrodi.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/sarahrodiedits

Monday Merry Meet: Kiley Dunbar

After an unscheduled break from the Monday Merry Meets*, we’re excited to chat with author, Kiley Dunbar. Her books include the delightful Borrow a Bookshop Holiday which made us all want to forget about selling lotions, potions and tea and want to become booksellers instead.

*everyone succumbed to a terrible cold that stole our voices and then the boiler broke. With the Enchanted Emporium’s reputation of hauntings, it took a while to find someone willing to come and fix it.

Monday Merry Meet: Kiley Dunbar

Willow: Welcome Kiley, come through to the back. Can we get you something warming to drink? We have a selection of tea, including our own Festive spice blend, which is Christmas in a cup, coffee or hot chocolate?

Amber: Or something stronger. I can warm up some mulled wine. You may need it. Percy, our Victorian resident ghost, has discovered ‘O’Christmas Tree’ on Spotify and as much as we try, we can’t switch it off. It’s been on a continual loop all day.

Kiley: It’s so nice to meet you all. You too Percy, nice tunes! I’d love a brew please. Festive Spice sounds braw.

A cup of tea surrounded by festive foliage
Image by Nina from Pixabay

Willow: They sang it around the piano upstairs at Christmas, apparently. It’s making him happy. Do you have any special traditions you always do at Christmas, Kiley?

Kiley: I love that! Cuz that’s what Christmas traditions are, aren’t they; recreating happy memories of long ago? I am a Christmas obsessive and love everything about the season. I put my tree in the window, all sparkly, in mid-November this year because I needed a dose of winter cheer. I love re-reading A Christmas Carol every year, and I always cut my Christmas cake early so I can eat it with my breakfast cuppa all through December. And I love travelling at Christmas, so I’ll book a snowy getaway very close to the big day itself! This year’s no different. I’m meeting my best friend in Edinburgh for a wee potter around the Christmas markets.

Willow: That sounds amazing. We reread a Christmas Carol too and have many different editions on the enchanted bookshelf.

Amber: I’d love to decorate mid-November too, but Willow is a grinch and makes us wait until December.

Rosa: Your current release revisits one of my favourite places, The Borrow A Bookshop in Clove Lore, Devon. What made you set a Christmas story there? How important is location for you?

Clove Lore is based (loosely) on Clovelly in Devon, which is a beautiful, magical place. It means a lot to me because that’s where my fella took me the week we met, so I associate it with those early feelings of falling stupidly in love. And it is picturesque, let me tell you. The perfect spot for a romance series. Even if I do send the residents of Clove Lore a massive Christmas flood in this book!

Open book with page bent into a heart in candlelight
Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay

Rosa: I love romance novels especially at Christmas. They provide an ideal escape from the mayhem. How important do you think a happy ever after ending is in fiction?

I think the reason we love romances with happy ever after endings is the same reason we love Christmas. Both offer us a sense that things can be better, that humanity isn’t spoiled and awful after all, and that with a big enough dose of love, community and kindness, we can all be happy.

We are hopeful creatures, deep down, and ultimately we long to be happy. Romance novels give us that positive feeling that anything’s possible.

Willow: It is your 7th novel. What has your publication journey been like? Is being a writer how you expected it to be?

I know! Seven books! It still amazes me. In 2018, I was facing redundancy, turning forty and terrified. I knew I had a shot at changing my life and writing the books I’ve always wanted to (but felt I never could), so I started typing! I’m still so grateful to Hera Books for picking me up when I was down. Writing for a living is such a lot of work, two books a year usually, and little time for rest, but I love it. It’s all I want to do for the rest of my life.

Willow: We have many would-be writers popping in. Do you have any advice for them?

Yes, just do it. Write whenever you feel able. Get the words down. Make writer friends and share your writing. Get feedback (but only from people whose opinion you actually want!) and don’t give up. Don’t censor yourself, either. Write your story for your future fans, not for those around you. And just enjoy it. It’s supposed to be fun. If it isn’t, are you writing the book you actually want to?

Willow: The Enchanted Emporium sells a number of candles in The Wishing Spell range which promise to help your day go smoothly. Which would you choose?

Kiley: I would love A Good Night’s Sleep candle, please. Often I’m up late into the night worrying about what the future holds. I’m a parent carer and when I try to picture what life will be like for my little family when I’m not around to do the caring, I crumble. So any magic you have for me in that regard, I’ll gladly welcome it!

Willow: One candle we sell invokes memories of your perfect day when lit. Where would it take you?

Kiley: It would take me back to Lapland in Christmas 2019 when I was writing Christmas at Frozen Falls (also set in Finnish Lapland). We were so happy there; it was snowy, black sky heaven! Ah, take me back!

Rosa: It sounds magical. Lapland is on mine and my son, Alejo’s dream places to visit.

Finland at night with the green northern lights
Image by Sturrax from Pixabay

Willow: The Enchanted Emporium is plagued by ghosts and paranormal activity. Have had had any spooky experiences – has it influenced your writing?

Kiley: Spooky experiences or hauntings? Not so much, but I do often feel like my life is following in a particular groove already set out for me, if that makes sense. Like when I met my partner, I recognised him, like I was waiting for him. I had the same feeling with my babies, too. The feeling strongly steers me away from things I don’t think are right for me. It’s always there and I trust it. All of my books are about characters learning to trust that inner voice too, steering them away from paths where they’ve taken a wrong turning.

Willow: Listening to our inner selves is very important.

Rosa: If Willow or Amber could blend you a potion to give you a special ability for 24 hours, what would it be and what would you do with it?

Kiley: I’d like a calm potion! Do you have such a thing? Let my mind rest easy for twenty-four hours. I know that’s not a big special ability, but I think I’d be a brighter, bolder person after a while away from worry!

Willow: That’s a potion which could be brewed. Leave it with us. It’d be useful during the next few weeks. What book would you add to The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf?

Kiley: There’s a book I swear by when writing about the ritual year. It’s called Stations of The Sun by Ronald Hutton. I use it all the time for finding details about old customs and beliefs linked to nature and its cycles. It inspired the Harvest Home ceilidh in my Summer at the Highland Coral Beach, for example. I just know you would love it!

Amber: Never mind the enchanted bookshelf. I need a copy of this.

Rosa: What would you add to my Box of Romance?

Kiley: It’s a book I am sure you already have – The Book Boyfriend by Jeanna Louise Skinner. It’s super romantic, has wonderful diversity of representation around realistic bodies and mental health, and it’s set in a magical book shop! What’s not to adore about that?

Amber: I’ve heard great things about that book and we’re chatting to her soon hopefully. Great choice.

Willow: And lastly, what are you working on currently? Or is it top secret?

Kiley: In spring 2023 I’m bringing you Something New at the Borrow a Bookshop, and I can tell you I’ve just signed a new three book contract with Canelo Hera for you two more Borrow a Bookshop stories as well as a very Christmassy standalone set in an extremely charming Cotswold village where one woman is trying to save her Christmas gingerbread grotto. That’s about all I can say about that, other than I can’t wait to share them all with you!

Willow, Amber and Rosa: We look forward to reading them. Thanks so much for visiting. Have a lovely Christmas.

Kiley: Thanks so much for having me. And Percy, I’ve loved having you DJ’ing ‘O’Christmas Tree’! It’ll be stuck in my head all month long. I hope you have a beautiful festive season at the Emporium, stay warm and cosy, all of you.

Author Biography:

Photo of Kiley Dunbar. Shoulder length dark hair with fringe. Smiling and leaning on on hand, she's wearing a thick cosy purple, pink and cream checked knitted jumper.
Kiley Dunbar

Kiley is Scottish and lives in England with her husband, two kids and Amos the Bedlington Terrier. She writes around her work at a University in the North of England where she lectures in English Literature and creative writing.

Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop

Blurb:

With just two weeks until Christmas, everything in Clove Lore should be perfect. But the latest holidaymaker to the Borrow a Bookshop is feeling far from festive…

Icelandic ex-bookseller Magnús Sturluson might be surrounded by love stories in the Bookshop, but he’s nursing a sadness that not even fiction can fix.

When Alexandra Robinson finds herself stranded in Clove Lore, she finds a safe place to hide from heartbreak. After all, all that’s waiting for her at home is a cheater boyfriend and the memories of her parents. As Alex finds herself embraced by the quirky village community, she finds her tough exterior thawing – and as she grows closer to Magnús, she finds an equally soft heart under his gruff shell.

It seems that Clove Lore is working it’s magic once again – until a great flood on Christmas Eve brings devastation in its wake. It’s up to Magnús and Alex to batten down the hatches and help bring the village back together again, while also introducing the locals to the Icelandic tradition of the jólabókaflóð – Yule book flood – where families and friends gather on Christmas Eve to exchange books and read together.

But can Magnús and Alex truly rescue the ruins of the village, and salvage their Christmas spirit? Or is there another complication lurking even closer than they thought?

@kileydunbarauthor on Insta

Book Review: Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop by Kiley Dunbar

Rosa here. Now Halloween is over, I love indulging in festive books so I was excited to find a copy of Kiley Dunbar’s Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop in my Box of Romance. I adored the prequel to this, The Borrow a Bookshop Holiday so was happy to revisit Clove Lore.

Book Review: Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop by Kiley Dunbar

Book cover for Christmas at the Borrow the Bookshop.  A traditional bookshop in the snow with a Christmas wreath on the door and decorated with lights. A woman in a bobbly hate and jumper walking towards it. Christmas trees are in the foreground
Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop by Kiley Dunbar

Title: Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop

Author: Kiley Dunbar

Publisher: Hera

Genre: festive romance

Release Date: 1st September 2022

Purchase Links

AMZ: https://amzn.to/39v0coN

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3QpSgpj

Apple: https://apple.co/3Oewbs0

Hive: https://bit.ly/3HI1olz

Blurb

‘Tis the season for finding love… and the perfect book

With just two weeks until Christmas, everything in Clove Lore should be perfect. But the latest holidaymaker to the Borrow a Bookshop is feeling far from festive…

Icelandic ex-bookseller Magnús Sturluson might be surrounded by love stories in the Bookshop, but he’s nursing a sadness that not even fiction can fix.

When Alexandra Robinson finds herself stranded in Clove Lore, she finds a safe place to hide from heartbreak. After all, all that’s waiting for her at home is a cheater boyfriend and the memories of her parents. As Alex finds herself embraced by the quirky village community, she finds her tough exterior thawing – and as she grows closer to Magnús, she finds an equally soft heart under his gruff shell.

It seems that Clove Lore is working its magic once again – until a great flood on Christmas Eve brings devastation in its wake. It’s up to Magnús and Alex to batten down the hatches and help bring the village back together again, while also introducing the locals to the Icelandic tradition of the jólabókaflóð – Yule book flood – where families and friends gather on Christmas Eve to exchange books and read together.

But can Magnús and Alex truly rescue the ruins of the village, and salvage their Christmas spirit? Or is there another complication lurking even closer than they thought?

Rosa’s Thoughts from the Emporium

Kiley Dunbar is an author I know I can turn to for a comfort read with quirky characters to love and a location I can immerse myself in. This book was no exception. Clove Lore and the bookshop welcomed me back like a hug and it was a joy to catch up with old favourite characters like Minty, Jude and Eliot, and of course, Aldous the dog.

The bookshop and its café is a perfect location for a Christmas story as it oozes cosiness and warmth especially when the characters sink into chairs in front of the fire surrounded by books. With the village decorated with Christmas decorations it made me feel festive even in September.

Magnus and Alex provided a fresh story and when their pasts were revealed, I was cheering them both on hoping they would both get the happy ending they deserved. Unlike many romances, Magnus and Alex get on so it was lovely to see the friendship flourish but then it meant the heartache cuts deeper when trials come their way.

The flood highlighted the devasting wide ranging effects disasters like this have but also showed the strength communities and people have when pushed to the brink.

With bookshops, the Christmas tradition of jólabókaflóð, a strong community and romance in the air, this novel is perfect for a heart-warming festive read on a cold evening with a hot chocolate or favourite drink.

It can be read as a standalone, but like all novels set in a village location, reading the first novel will give added depth to the reading experience as you have a connection with the secondary characters too.

Author Biography

Black and white photo of Kiley Dunbar
White woman, with dark long hair and glasses
Kiley Dunbar

Kiley Dunbar writes heart-warming, escapist, romantic fiction set in beautiful places, with One Winter’s Night being shortlisted for the RNA Romantic Comedy Novel Award 2021.

Kiley’s five novels include: The Borrow a Bookshop Holiday (May 2021), One Winter’s Night (September 2020), Summer at the Highland Coral Beach (2020), Christmas at Frozen Falls (2019) and One Summer’s Night (2019).

Social Media Links


Website and newsletter: http://www.kileydunbar.co.uk/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCI8wM4Fmkbyg4S_XGSnfUCA

https://twitter.com/kileydunbar

https://www.facebook.com/KileyDunbarAuthor/

Book Review: Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop by Helen Rolfe

While there maybe a strict no Christmas rule in The Enchanted Emporium until 1st December, it doesn’t extend into the courtyard outside. Sitting next to the enchanted lending library, Rosa’s Box of Romance has been decorated with fairy lights and tinsel to reflect the books inside. It’s full of this year’s festive treats for visitors to borrow or exchange including Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop by Helen Rolfe thanks to Random Things Tours.

Rosa is excited to share her honest and unbiased review as part of the blog tour.

Book Review: Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop by Helen Rolfe

Book cover for Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop by  Helen Rolfe
Pale blue cover with festive landscape at the bottom. A shop glowing with fairy lights and flanked by 2 Christmas trees
Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop by Helen Rolfe

Title: Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop

Author: Helen Rolfe

Publisher: Orion

Genre: Romance, Festive

Release Date: 22nd October 2022

Blurb

Can three sisters stitch their family back together?

Loretta has run the little sewing shop in Butterbury for years, while bringing up her three headstrong daughters. Her own grandmother taught her how to quilt, and Loretta always found time to sit with Daisy, Ginny and Fern, pulling together scraps of material – and their hopes and dreams – into a beautiful whole.

But this Christmas the family is coming apart at the seams: Fern feels like she’s failing at motherhood and marriage; Ginny’s passion for her job as a midwife is fading, Daisy is keeping two very different secrets – and most of all, Loretta seems to be hiding something from her daughters…

As they come together to create a beautiful new festive quilt, memories are stirred, the bonds between sisters healed, and new friendships woven. But when Loretta reveals the real reason she’s gathered them all back to the sewing shop, can the sisters mend the quilt, and their family, in time for Christmas?

Full of kindness, community and festive magic, this is a treat to curl up with this Christmas! Perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley, Jenny Colgan and Ali McNamara

Thoughts from the Emporium

The title and blurb drew Rosa in thanks, in part to the recent chat in the shop about the special meaning quilts after the history of Willow’s beloved childhood patchwork quilt was revealed in Old Jax’s Quilt. It promised to be as cosy and warming as the quilt the sisters were making and it didn’t disappoint. Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop was a delightful and heart-warming start to Rosa’s festive reading.

The Sewing Box is an ideal setting for a festive read and made a refreshing read from the usual bakery or café. The family business was built on love and community which showed in the colourful and detailed descriptions of the shop and the sisters’ current and past sewing projects. Reading about how memories were held in each patch encouraged Rosa to pick up a needle and begin some festive projects of her own to create heirlooms and traditions for her small family including her own version of an advent calendar. For readers who have a creative side, this novel is an inspiring Christmas treat.

The village and wintery landscape also extended the feeling of escapism away from the family home and the sense of community and care was just what was needed in these troubling times.

Told in all the sisters and their mum, Loretta’s, point of view it gave an insight into each life, motivation and reason for drifting apart which made Rosa invested in a happy ending. They’re all relatable characters especially Fern with her desire for perfection and Loretta for a close knit family again.  It tugged at the heart. While there is a thread of romance through this book, the focus is on the bond sisters can have, idyllic locations, friendship and a tight knit community where healing and love can flourish.

It’s ideal for the dark evenings, snuggled under a duvet with hot chocolate or festive tea.

Author Biography

Helen Rolfe sitting on a wooden park bench reading. She is a white woman, shoulder length light brown hair wearing jeans, black top and sunglasses
Helen Rolfe

Helen Rolfe writes contemporary women’s fiction and enjoys weaving stories about family, friendship, secrets, and community. Characters often face challenges and must fight to overcome them, but above all, Helen’s stories always have a happy ending

Social media

Twitter @HJRolfe

Website www.helenjrolfe.com

Other blogs on this tour list
14th Nov
Handwritten girl @handwritten
Tealeaves and Bookleaves @fitzgerald631
Stacey Hammond (IG) @stacey_wh17
15th Nov
Karen K is reading @karenkingston8
Travelling Page turner (IG) @travelling_pageturner
Mrs E 2017 (IG) @mrse2017
16th Nov
Coffee Books and escape (IG) @coffeebookandescape
Strastosphere Kawaii Girl (IG) @stratospherekawaiigirl
The Enchanted Emporiun Bookshelf @WitchesOf Whitby
Bookish Jottings @BookishJottings
Other blogs on this tour

Book Extract: More than Mistletoe by The Christmas Collective

Now the Halloween celebrations are over, the Emporium’s focus is on the colder and darker evenings, as we head towards winter and Yule. Unlike many shops, Willow is adamant they won’t decorate for Christmas until December. While it infuriates Amber who wants to put the Yule tree up now, the shop provides an oasis of calm amidst the frenzy and festive delights springing up in neighbouring streets in Whitby. It also ovoid upsetting the tree spirits. There is enough chaos in the shop with the ongoing feud between Black Cat and Vincent, and Mrs Marley’s interference without adding avenging spirits to the mix.

Christmas isn’t completely banned, new festive books are appearing on the Enchanted Emporium’s bookshelf and in Rosa’s Box of Romance. Some of the best romances cover this magical season. More than Mistletoe by The Christmas Collective has arrived, courtesy of Rachel’s Random Resources and Rosa is excited to share an extract with you, to tempt you to read further.

More than Mistletoe book cover. Dark blue background with silver stars. A bunch of mistletoe in the centre tied with a red ribbon. Tag line Twelve Christmas Stories of kisses, wishes and near misses.
More than Mistletoe by The Christmas Collective

Title: More than Mistletoe

Author: The Christmas Collective

Release Date: 25th October 2021

Purchase Link – http://mybook.to/morethanmistletoe

Blurb

Cosy up for Christmas with 12 very different tales of love with all the festive feels!

More than Mistletoe, the debut anthology from The Christmas Collective, is an eclectic and inclusive mix of stories, with swoon-worthy characters, second chances and happy endings.

Between the pages, you will discover classic romance, festive thrillers, LGBTQ+ love stories, hilarious romcoms and historical settings, these stories really do span the whole spectrum of festive fiction.

Featuring twelve up and coming new authors, this refreshing, diverse and romantic read, is a must-have read that will leave you reaching for your Christmas jumper, gingerbread cookies and a mug of hot chocolate!

Extract from More than Mistletoe

This extract is taken from Lumikinos by Lucy Alexander. This is the opening story in the More Than Mistletoe anthology. In this beautifully atmospheric tale, Erica finds herself caught in a snowstorm in the Cotswolds on Christmas Eve. When the traffic grinds to a halt, Erica and the other stranded drivers support each other through the long wait. An immediate connection with one particular driver, the handsome Jack, feels so right, it’s almost as if a force as great as Christmas itself is trying to bring them together.

Extract from ‘More Than Mistletoe’: Lumikinos by Lucy Alexander

‘Any news?’ called Jack, as he helped Erica down the steep bank.

Erica spotted the man in the orange hard hat moving down the line with a lantern.

‘No news,’ he called back. ‘Won’t be getting out of here tonight after all, I’m afraid. Plough’s fixed but couldn’t shift it. They’re sending the big one from Oxford first thing. Reckon you’ll be out of here in time for your Christmas dinner, though, okay?’

Jack nodded.

Erica sighed – but perhaps not quite so heavily as she would have earlier. ‘So … now what?’ she asked.

Jack shrugged. ‘I guess we’d better call our families,’ he suggested.

‘Yes. Yes, you’re right.’ Erica nodded. She took a step towards her Clio, which was now almost completely buried in snow.

‘And then …’ Jack rubbed the back of his neck. ‘Do you maybe want to have a drink or something? I’ve got some Baileys in the car. I was going to give it to my mum for Christmas but … well, looks like we’ll be here for a long time, and would be nice to have some company. You don’t have to, though …’

Erica smiled. ‘No, that would be great.’

Half an hour and some uncomfortable phone calls later, Erica found herself sitting with Jack in his Land Rover, sipping Baileys out of their plastic keep cups and talking as though they had known each other for years, not hours.

It turned out that Jack worked in the city and had gone to the same university as one of Erica’s housemates, and she was pleased to learn that his flat wasn’t too far from her studio. She wasn’t usually much of a chatterbox, but Jack was easy to talk to, and they were just comparing their families’ Christmas traditions when there was a cheerful knock on the window. The glass was completely covered in snow and condensation; Erica opened it to find a group of their fellow drivers, including the Werther’s Originals lady, beaming at them.

‘Hello, dears!’ she cried. ‘We’re all having a campfire and a few nibbles. Would you like to join us?’

Erica and Jack were only too glad to join the others gathered around the campfire – which turned out to be a blazing pile of bracken and old newspaper that some enterprising person had set fire to with a lighter. One person was melting snow in a travel kettle to make tea, and someone else was passing around a tin of roasted chestnuts. Erica toasted her fingertips and felt her toes begin to thaw as she and Jack stood beside the flames. She couldn’t help smiling – strangers were sharing hipflasks and swapping Christmas stories, and if it hadn’t been for the circumstances, Erica would have thought this was rather a nice way to spend Christmas Eve.

Erica and Jack were both hungry, but they too shared what little food they had – a box of M&S biscuits which Jack had bought for his grandmother, and an assortment of Christmas treats that Erica had got from the Bath Christmas market. Erica had also bought a cuddly toy reindeer at the market as a gift for her nephew; this she gave to a little girl whose mother was at the end of her wits trying to settle her down to sleep in the back of their car. Around the same time, a rather sweet old man with an ancient Austin remarked that his heater was broken, so Jack and another driver got out their toolboxes and helped him to fix it.

Later, someone pulled out a guitar, and everyone who wasn’t busy lending blankets and extra clothes to those less well-prepared, gathered back around the fire to join in a spot of spontaneous carolling. Erica was no songbird, but she enjoyed listening to Jack’s tuneful voice as he stood singing beside her.

As the final notes of “In the Bleak Midwinter” soared up towards the starry skies, Jack turned to her and murmured that it was getting late.

Erica felt suddenly warm, and she didn’t think it was because of the fire. Looking up at Jack, she smiled somewhat nervously. ‘It is late,’ she agreed.

‘Do you want to go to bed?’ he asked, then he laughed awkwardly. ‘Er – sorry – I mean, are you tired?’

Erica blushed. She was glad of the firelight flickering over her face. ‘I’m not tired,’ she lied. She found herself longing for the night not to be over just yet.

Mug next to a mince pie and holly
Image by Lidia from Pixabay

Author Biography

‘The Christmas Collective is a group of twelve romance authors who came together when shortlisted for a festive romance competition. Together they have created two Christmas Romance anthologies, More Than Mistletoe (2021) and The Mistletoe Mixtape (2022).

The Christmas Collective authors are spread far and wide, across the UK, Ireland, Spain and South Korea, however, one thing connects them despite the distance: a love of romance and Christmas.’

Website

http://thechristmascollective.co/wordpress/

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/thechristmascoll

Twitter

https://twitter.com/ChristmasCo2022

Instagram

https://instagram.com/christmasco22?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

TikTok

https://www.tiktok.com/@christmasco2022?_t=8V3OdLw3XWQ&_r=1

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