30 September 2016

April Skies by Ian Ayris

April SkiesApril Skies by Ian Ayris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, Wow, Wow what can I say but I absolutely loved this book it's freaking amazing!!! and to top it off I have found myself a new author.

Set in Bethnal Green,East London 1991 we meet Ex-con John Sissons who is totally out of look. having no job and no friends.until one day things change, he gets a job in a factory. But has time goes on he realises he didn't get this job by accident with a past exploding in front of his eyes. John needs to run but after a lifetime of running it is no longer an option. Then his sister goes missing, John knows its only a matter of time before they come for him....

An East End tale to tear your heart out...

This story is gritty with a capital G. The tension is built up has we follow John on an emotional roller-coaster journey.I devoured it in one night, I simply couldn't put it down.

I must point out that this is the second book in the John Sissons series which can easily be read has a standalone. And now i am dying to read Abide With Me because I want to know more about JOHN!

For me I found this story very believable with everyday characters. Do be warned there is plenty of bad language which might offend some readers, if that's not your thing. But for me I found it very fitting with the story line. April Skies ticks all the boxes for me and without a doubt definitely my cup of tea.

If your looking for a gritty page turner, I highly recommend this giving it 5 massive stars.

Thank you to the author for a copy in exchange for a honest review.

View all my reviews

A Cornish Christmas by Lily Graham

A Cornish ChristmasA Cornish Christmas by Lily Graham
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Those of you that know me, know I'm not a fan of christmas and call me the Grinch, After hearing good things about this book. I just had to give it a whirl.....So this is where the Grinch went fluffy one Sunday afternoon. And what a Magical Sunday afternoon it turned out to be, curled up on the sofa with a cuppa. Being whisked into this enchanting story. I hear this is a new title and was originally called The Postcard. which I think is more fitting to the story because this book isn't actually that Christmassy.....phew says the Grinch!

But its got to be said A Cornish Christmas is a simply beautiful, stunning story.....in fact it is perfect.

Set in a beautiful village of Cornwall Ivy is pregnant with her first baby and is looking forward to christmas with her husband for the first time, since the death of her beloved mother she feels things are going to be OK. But there is trouble ahead. It soon emerges that Stuart has been keeping secrets from Ivy, and suddenly she misses her mum more than ever.
Having moved her mother's old writing desk into there new cottage Ivy finds a postcard from her mother secrets from the past come hurtling into the present.Ivy is about to discover that the future is full of unexpected surprises and Christmas at Sea Cottage promises to be one to remember. You need to read this yourself to find out what happens. Has I don't want to give any spoilers away. I can honestly say that you certainly wont regret it!!

First of all I love the fact that this book is set in Cornwall....my favorite place. Then the fact that I lost my mom two years ago so I can totally relate to this story. The grief and the emotion and hope that is portrait-ed in this story is truly magnificent. You might one to get your tissues ready for this one........ Tear Jerker alert peeps! It isn't very often I find myself an emotional wreck while reading but this story certainly pulled on my hear strings.

This is the first book that I have read by Lily Graham and I loved it that much, The Summer Escape has just landed on my pile.

I highly recommend this giving it 5 Magical stars. I'd like to say a massive thank you to Kim Nash for recommending this book and to Netgalley and Bookouture for an advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

27 September 2016

Girl in Danger by Leigh Russell

Girl in DangerGirl in Danger by Leigh Russell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Girl In Danger is the second book in the Lucy Hall series. Having read the first one I couldn't wait to see what was in store for Lucy in this story. And I was actually surprised at how different this story was in comparison to the first one. Leigh Russell got gritter and action packed with this story that's for sure. In fact this book is more Leigh's style of writing being a big fan of her work. I devoured this in one morning and really enjoyed it.

With one gritty start we follow Lucy on a new adventure where she enjoys her new job has a investigative reporter in the big city of Paris. Looking forward to a lovely summer with hr friend Nina who has come to stay with her.Lucy is about to experience its dangerous side when she returns home to find her house has been ransacked and Nina's gone. With the police not helping Lucy turns to private investigator Alain Michel for help. When her informant is found dead, she realises she may be next. Lucy has something the killer wants and he’ll do anything to get it back…

I have to say that the author's stunning scenery descriptions are spot on with this being set in Paris and visiting the city myself, this story totally transported me back there. Although I loved this story I must point out that is it slower paced than Leigh's other novels. Maybe this is due to the fact that it is a mystery story and not a hard hitting crime story.

I am looking forward to the next Lucy Hall story and getting to know her more as I feel there is something missing from her with the last story based around her family then this one jumping to her being a reporter. Both are very enjoyable books but so different.

I highly recommend this giving it 4 stars

Thank you to Netgalley and Thomas & Mercer for an advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review

View all my reviews

The Puppet Master by Abigail Osborne ~~~~~BLOG TOUR~~~~~

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The Puppet Master by
Abigail Osborne

I am delighted it is my stop on The Puppet Master Blog Tour today. Not only have I got a Q&A interview with Debut author Abigail Osborne. But you will can also check out my 5 star review….. So keep on reading guys :)

Good morning Abigail thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell us a little about yourself and background?
Hi Shell, Well I was born in the Lake District and I’ve moved around a lot since then. I went to university in the West Midlands and I met my husband there so I’ve stayed down here ever since. I currently works as a Needs Assessor for a charity, working with disabled people. I’m happily married with two crazy kittens.

When did you know that you wanted to become a writer? and how did you go about it?
Being a writer to me, was like when people dream of being an astronaut, something I’d love to do but never something I realistically thought I could. It was a pipe dream until I started my book reviewing website and having such lovely feedback that awakened how much I love to write and it just went from there. Being a writer has boosted my self-confidence no end. Even if not everyone likes the book, the achievement has made the world of difference in my life.

Can you tell us what genre your books are and the audience you write for?
My book is a thriller with a bit of romance. My book grapples with some quite difficult issues so the romance in it lightens it up. The audience that I think would appreciate this book is those that like the genre and people that will enjoy a story with a message.

What is your writing process? and how long does it take?
As this is my first book, I was learning as I went. I realised that I need to be somewhere with background noise and I had to lock myself off Facebook as well as Candy Crush because the ultimate procrastination tool. It took me just over a year to get the first draft of my book finished. Then another six months to edit and get it ready for print.

Are your characters based on anyone you know or are they just fictional?
The characters in the book are fictional as in they aren’t based on anyone. Some of the things that happen to them are things that I have experienced or friends and family have experienced.

Have you wrote about a personal experience in your novels?
I had a friend of mine read this book before anyone else to see what she thought and when she called me afterwards, she kept picking out the things that she knew ‘were me’ or had happened to me. The other way it is personal experience is the reason that I wrote this book. I wrote it because I wanted to tell a story where the characters go to hell and back, but they get through it and come out the other side. I’ve been through some difficult times and it was meeting my husband that grounded me and he helped me through to the other side. So that essence of the book is very personal to me.

What research do you do?
I have to admit, I didn’t do very much research for this book. I went to University in Worcester and I grew up in Windermere so I was able to draw upon that for the book. Everything else was fictionalised so I didn’t really feel the need to do copious research. I did look up a few little points here and there.

Who would you like to co-write with and why?
If I’m really honest, I’d love to co-write with Barbara Copperthwaite. I’ve only read Invisible so far but I loved the message that she gave with that book, that there is one victim that we don’t see and it really resonated with me and the books that I like to read and what I’d like to write. I feel that she would be a fascinating person to write with and I’d learn so much!

What's your favorite book?
My favourite book is Jane Eyre, it was the first novel that I read and it was the reason that I love to read. Because it transcends Jane’s life, when I read it as a child, I was able to relate and enjoy the scenes where she is a child and then when I was older I related and appreciated her journey into womanhood. I tend to reread Jane Eyre every 2 years and I also find that resonates with things I’m going through in my life at that time.

What's your favorite food?
Haha, my husband will be laughing if he reads this. I am extremely fussy with food. I go to a restaurant and I always have to take something off and have my food plain. My favourite food is sausages, mash and beans. Very adventurous!

What's your favorite film?
Robin Hood and the Prince of Thieves – The Kevin Costner one but NOT for Kevin Costner. Alan Rickman is hysterical and makes this film and I love it. ‘Cancel Christmas’! Best line ever

What's your favorite song?
My favourite song is ‘The River lies in you’ by Yurima, as a (self-taught) piano player I would love to be able to play this, it is beautiful. It makes me think of everything happy in my life, it’s a very emotional piece of music.

How can readers find out more information about yourself and your books?
Well, I have a website at www.abigailosborneauthor.com and they can follow me on twitter at @Abigail_Author.

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Manipulated by fear and love…could you cut the strings and take back control?
Billie’s hiding from the world, believing it to be the only way to take control of her life as she lives in fear of the man who nearly destroyed her. But what she doesn’t realise that she’s exactly where he wants her; isolated and afraid. A chance meeting with budding journalist Adam sparks a relationship that could free her from the terror that controls her. But will Adam be able to see the real Billie buried under her terror and pain?
Adam knows exactly who Billie is and is determined to expose her and get justice for the lives she ruined. But first, he needs to convince her to open up to him but as unwanted attraction and feelings blossom between them, Adam is forced to realise that all is not as it seems. Most of their lives have been unknowingly governed by the desires and needs of someone who considers himself their master. He has influenced and shaped them for years, meticulously weaving a web of lies and control around them. Can Billie and Adam survive the betrayals in store and cut the strings that bind them?
One thing is for sure. The master wants his puppets back – and he’ll do anything to keep them.

My thoughts
Well I couldn't wait to get stuck into this beauty and I seriously can not believe this book is a debut novel. The Puppet Master had me gripped from start to finish I devoured it in one afternoon, it is totally disturbing and unputdownable….I freaking loved it!! And I have been dying to tell the world what I think because I loved it so much. This is one of those books that gets in your head and stays with you along time after reading it.

So the story starts off where we meet Billie and is set from the present day to 2018. Billie is off to visit the bookshop where she goes every week. From the author's description we get a feeling something isn't right and is clearly portrayed that she is afraid with her thoughts. But then soon enough we are introduced to Adam, who sparks a relationship that could free her from the terror that controls her. knowing who she is after convincing her to open up but soon realises that all is not as it seems. Most of their lives have been unknowingly governed by the desires and needs of someone who considers himself their master.

One thing is for sure. The master wants his puppets back – and he’ll do anything to keep them.

This is a very twisted story that will have you on the edge of the seat. The author certainly knows how to keep the reader on tenterhooks that's sure. It is extremely well crafted building up a story that is wrote in two parts. The first part is set from the present day through to 2018 and part is the past and all the way through the chapters alternate between the two characters Billie and Adam. Then boom the whole story between the two characters falls into place where found myself saying OMG…. NO WAY.  But it doesn't end there,with more twists and turns all I can say is you're in for an absolute treat. This story took me through lots of different emotions, from emotional to anxious has if I was feeling the same has Billie.Seriously this is a corker of a story and this is most definitely one of my favourite reads for 2016.

I highly recommend this giving it 5 well deserved stars.I can't wait to read more by Abigail.

And I would like to thank the author for an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review

Information about the Book
Title: The Puppet Master
Author: Abigail Osborne
Genre: Adult Romance
Publisher: Self-Published
Format: Ebook and Paperback
Published: 30th August 2016

Author Information
Abbie was born in the Lake District and has moved all around the UK since then until she met her husband at University. She lives with him and their two crazy cats in the West Midlands. She is a Needs Assessor for students with disabilities and has her own book reviewing blog called Many Books, Many Lives. Even though she did English Literature at University it wasn't until she started reviewing books that she realised how much she loved to write. The Puppet Master is her first novel but it certainly won't be her last.

You can follow her on @Abigail_Author or @MBequalsML.

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22 September 2016

Strangers by Paul Finch

StrangersStrangers by Paul Finch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Being a fan of Paul Finch I couldn't wait to get stuck into this latest novel Strangers and once again Paul doesn't disappoint.... his writing just gets better and better. With this one being my favorite so far, I totally loved it and devoured it in one day it is just brilliant!

The story starts off with one gritty prologue taking us back four years where we are introduced to the main character Lucy and DI Mandy Doyle. Unfortunately Lucy's career doesn't get off to a good start in fact it starts off disastrous. Leaving Lucy in uniform has a PC rather than CID. Then we fast forward to the present day and we follow Lucy on one hell of a roller coaster journey on a hunt for a serial female serial killer Jill The Reaper. And Lucy is about to find out, going undercover is the most dangerous work there is. And these murders are as brutal as they come, talk about hardcore.

For me there is nothing like to like bout this book Lucy is one strong courageous character who I really do hope to read more of. And it is certainly a page turner that is so intense I was literally on the edge of my seat. I also love the fact that this is a story about a female serial killer making it very unique.

This is one dark, gruesome and gritty story that you certainly sink your teeth into which I highly recommend giving it 5 easy stars.

Thank you to Paul Finch and Avon for an advanced copy in exchange for a honest review.

View all my reviews

21 September 2016


I am super excited today to be joined by Lindsay J. Pryor author of BLACKTHORN series on Publication day. Blood Bound, book #7 is out today and you can grab your copy on the link below. Lindsay has kindly offered to take part in my Q&A interview. So without further ado I would like to welcome Lindsay J. Pryor.

Morning thank you for joining me this morning

Morning, Shell. I’m really happy to be here. Thanks for the invitation.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and background?

I’ve been writing for over thirty years and have been published for the last four. I currently write dark, multi-layered Gothic paranormal romance set in the gritty and dystopian urban world of BLACKTHORN. An Amazon bestselling series, it has achieved numerous Gothic and PNR Amazon number ones both in the UK and the US.

I was discovered through an international romance writing competition after being a finalist for two years running. I was approached by Bookouture and asked to be their launch author back in 2012.  

Although I now write full-time, I’m a qualified Psychology lecturer and English teacher.  I taught for eighteen years, primarily to improve literacy for children with special needs. I was born and grew up in Wales but now live in England with my husband, our rescue bunny and a plethora of wild woodland creatures.

When I’m not writing, I’m reading or watching films. I love nature and walking so, when the weather’s reasonable, I trek along coastlines, through woods or over the moors. I definitely like the quiet life!

When did you know that you wanted to become a writer? and how did you go about it?

I’ve always written stories. I wrote my first sci-fi book when I was nine. It’s been my primary hobby and outlet for as long as I can remember. Coming up with story ideas has always been more of a compulsion than a choice, which is why, for years, I wrote purely for the pleasure of it.

When I was 13, I remember telling my careers adviser that I wanted to write books. I was advised to opt for a more sustainable career. Even when I relented and paved out a career for myself in teaching, I still wrote every spare minute I had. I wrote stories throughout my teenage years into my early twenties, as well as writing, performing and directing mini-plays in my local church hall. I opted to study Psychology and Communication at university because I thought it would better help me understand the characters I write about. I then went on to qualify as an English teacher.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I decided to start pursuing publication. A handful of submissions of later and, despite being very lucky to get some positive responses about my potential, I knew I was nowhere near ready. I left things lie for a number of years as I worked on developing my writing and deciding what genre to focus on and, basically, simply enjoying the pleasure of the process.

It wasn’t until I was in my late thirties that I saw a call out for the New Voices competition in Writing Magazine, and one of the prizes was editorial feedback. I entered for two consecutive years and was voted into the final by readers and editors both times. Bookouture discovered me because of that competition. Today marks my seventh book published with them.

Can you tell us what genre your books are and the audience you write for?

My books are dark paranormal romance. My audience are prolific readers with eclectic tastes – PNRs, Urban Fantasy, romance, soft fantasy, Gothic, sci-fi, thrillers, erotica, classic literature. I have both male and female readers who span an age-range (though I only recommend my books for 18+). As one of my readers put in his review on Amazon.com:

“Lindsay Pryor makes it very probable that Blackthorn would appeal to the more traditionally genre restrictive readers who generally like to stick to only their preferred genres (for example it definitely spans across the genres of paranormal/urban fantasy, dark fantasy, science fiction, action/adventure, fiction, romance/erotica and crime/forensics).”

I basically write for anyone who likes an intense and complex interwoven story, enjoy plot twists, getting deep inside the heads of characters, and who don’t mind the darker side of romance.

What is your writing process? and how long does it take?

I had a very specific process for Blackthorn because of the overarching plot that runs through the eight books.

As a general rule though, I spend a considerable amount of time staring into space and scribbling notes about character, strength of conflict, and key plot points that mark their journey. Once I have the three key turning points in the story, I start to write a rough outline. I never start writing until I know where a story is going. At that point, I play each scene through like a film in my head, over and over again until I’ve nailed the focus of it. I do a lot of that late at night and first thing in the morning.

When I’m underway, I tend to write a few thousand words each day to maintain the pace of the story. My books average 100-120k which can take me anything from 6 to 12 weeks on average.  

The real work doesn’t start until the first draft is down and I’ve finished telling myself the story. I then go over and over the story, omitting and adding scenes and layering in detail. I work in loops, such as from the end of the book to the beginning or from the middle to the end. Then I begin the official editing.

Are your characters based on anyone you know or are they just fictional?

They’re most definitely all fictional.

Have you wrote about a personal experience in your novels?

My books are littered with personal experiences and observations of some of the core themes of my series: prejudice, discrimination, the invalidity of assumptions, the effect of social hierarchy and the impact of the lack of fair opportunities. Also how love, loyalty and compassion can fight through the toughest of times.

Ultimately though, a writer’s job is to empathise. You don’t need the personal experience – you just need to be able to imagine how it would feel. Saying that, I do have one scene where one of my characters stands on a shard of glass. I once spent the night in A&E after doing to same. I can still remember lying in agony on the hospital bed as the glass was removed. I made a mental note of every sensation in case I needed to use it in a story one day.

What research do you do?

I’ve been fascinated by mythology and the paranormal for over thirty years now. My favourite books as a child were The Enchanted Wood, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and The Worst Witch. It all stemmed from there.

When I studied for my Psychology degree, I read into parapsychology on the side and even did some ghost hunting off the back of it. Books (both reference and fiction), TV and films have all been a source of extending my knowledge as much as possible – especially so I can turn things on their head and approach things from a different angle.

Who would you like to co-write with and why?

Oh my goodness, what a question! The scope! I’m going to break away from books as that’s too predictable and say I’d love to write an episode of The Walking Dead. If Robert Kirkman is available  

What's your favorite book?

Wuthering Heights. For me, the beauty of Wuthering Heights was Emily Bronte’s willingness to push aside what is deemed appropriate and right as to how heroes and heroines should behave and interact on the page to, instead, focusing on enabling the rawness and power of the romance to take centre stage above social conventions. The reader is left knowing that Heathcliff loved Catherine and Catherine loved Heathcliff – a love that survived beyond the end. Albeit dark and tumultuous and destructive, ultimately their love was meant to be.

What's your favorite food?

Most things Italian, especially anything vegetarian.

What's your favorite film?

Argh, another killer! I’m a HUGE film fan. Heck, if I have to choose, I’m going to go for As Good as it Gets, but that’s closely followed by The Lost Boys, Mad Max Fury Road, Stardust, World War Z and Lucky Number Slevin.

What's your favorite song?

You’re torturing me with these favourites! It depends on my mood. I love belting out 80’s soft rock (tunelessly), 30 Seconds to Mars, Kings of Leon, The Beatles, Queen, Adam Lambert, My Chemical Romance, even Genesis. Argh, it’s too close a call between John Lennon’s Imagine, Blackbird by The Beatles and Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush.

How can readers find out more information about yourself and your books?

You can visit my website. Everything you could need to know is there. My other main place is my FB page where I regularly chat to my readers. I receive a lot of emails too, so never hesitate to get in touch if you prefer a less public forum.

Lindsay J. Pryor  Author of the BLACKTHORN series

16 September 2016

~~~~~Blog Bitz ~~~~~ for Christmas At the Little Village Bakery by Tilly Tennant

Today I am delighted to share with you an extract of CHRISTMAS AT THE LITTLE VILLAGE BAKERY by Tilly Tennant which is out today and you can grab your copy on the link below.
UK: http://amzn.to/29glVkf
US: http://amzn.to/295yTw0

It’s time to get toasty by the fire with a glass of mulled wine and a slice of chocolate yule log sprinkled with a little romance. Welcome to Christmas at the Little Village Bakery.

Snow is falling in Honeybourne and Spencer is bringing home his American fiancée Tori for a traditional English Christmas with all the trimmings. But when his hippie mum and dad meet her high-maintenance parents, sparks of the wrong sort start to fly. Then Spencer bumps into his first love Jasmine and unexpected feelings come flooding back.

Millie is run off her feet with Christmas orders at the Little Village Bakery and new baby Oscar. Thank goodness her cousin Darcie is here to help her. Although she does seem to be rather flirty with Millie’s boyfriend Dylan.

Will Darcie ever find true love of her own? And is marrying Tori a terrible mistake for Spencer if his heart is with someone else?

A heartwarming Christmassy romantic comedy, perfect for fans of Carole Matthews and Milly Johnson.

THE LITTLE VILLAGE BAKERY by Tilly Tennant was published in June 2016.

UK: http://amzn.to/24lNnTt

US: http://amzn.to/1VI2O3x

Chapter One

It felt like the world had been muffled. Their breath rose in plumes into the air against a landscape that was white as far as the eye could see. Gentle feathers of snow fell silently, frosting their coats and hair.

Tori gripped Spencer’s hand tighter and he looked down at her with a broad grin as they trudged along the path that led to the Old Bakery, his unruly black hair peeking out from beneath a woolly hat and his startling blue eyes alive with humour. Her tiny frame was bundled up in a huge padded coat, and he could barely see her flame-red hair beneath the hat and scarf wrapped around it, but the perfect nose that turned up a little at the end, and the blue eyes set in a face that looked a good deal younger than her twenty-eight years, peeked out at him from the layers, and he couldn’t think of a time when she had looked lovelier.

As he drew in a lungful of frosty air, he was filled with joy to see the paths and fields of Honeybourne that meant they were home – at least, his home; though, in time, he hoped that it might become hers too. He had enjoyed his time in Colorado teaching on the exchange programme at a school in Boulder – aside from being the place where he had found Tori it was a beautiful part of the world – but he had been away for over a year, apart from the one brief visit in the spring for the opening of the Old Bakery, and a year was a long time to be parted from the place he felt rooted to.

‘I bet you didn’t expect to go from snow in Boulder to more snow here,’ he said.

‘You get snow in England too.’

‘Yeah, but usually at Easter, not Christmas,’ Spencer laughed. ‘One of the supreme ironies of all those songs about white Christmases is that in real life you don’t get a flake of the stuff until at least March.’

‘I can deal with snow. It’ll shake the jet lag off a bit.’

‘Maybe we should have had another snooze at home before venturing out to meet everyone,’ Spencer said thoughtfully. ‘I’m sure they would have understood if we’d put off the reunions until we were feeling right.’

‘Best way to deal with jet lag is to battle through it,’ Tori announced stoically. ‘When you’re exhausted, your body won’t care whether it thinks it’s bedtime or not.’

‘If you say so. And is the jet lag being shook off?’

‘Not really,’ Tori grinned. ‘I never said it was a foolproof plan.’

‘Maybe it’s the wrong sort of snow… How’s our English snow holding up against your American stuff?’

‘It’s a bit wet.’

‘Don’t you dare add anything to that about it being like the English people…’

‘I would never say that,’ Tori smiled. ‘I love the English people. One in particular I love more than anyone in the world…’

Spencer’s grin widened, and he gave her hand a squeeze. He’d waited so long to hear those words. ‘I love you too,’ he said.

She turned to him with an impish gleam in her eye. ‘Oh, did you think I meant you? I was talking about your friend, Millie, obviously. After all, anyone who can make chocolate cake like she does has to be worthy of my love.’

Spencer bent to kiss her lightly on the lips. They were cold, but yielded and warmed beneath his own. ‘That’s exactly why I love you, chocolate cake or no. And you’re really getting the hang of the British sarcasm thing.’

‘I’m not sure that’s a compliment.’

‘Of course it is.’

Tori raised her eyebrows. The action was just about visible below the rim of her red and blue reindeer-motif bobble-hat. ‘Is that the British sarcasm thing?’

‘I’m afraid so.’

‘Then you’d better watch it, buster. We may not have sarcasm in Boulder but we do have fists.’

Spencer threw back his head and laughed. The sound echoed down the frozen lane. Then he scooped Tori into his arms and planted another kiss on her lips, this one more passionate than the last. ‘I really do love you, Tori Annabelle Dempsey.’

‘Hey…’ She smiled as she pulled away, catching her breath. ‘If you do that again we might not make it to the bakery.’

‘I’m sure they won’t mind if we’re late.’

‘That’s rude. Didn’t your parents teach you anything?’

‘You can ask them in a couple of days when they arrive back from Spain.’

Tori’s smile faded. ‘You think they’ll like me?’

‘Of course they’ll like you. Quite frankly, I don’t care anyway. I love you, and that’s the only thing that matters.’

‘You didn’t say that when you were stressing about meeting my parents.’

‘That’s different.’


‘It just is. Your parents are… Well, let’s just say they take a lot more impressing than mine will. And fathers are always more protective of daughters, aren’t they?’

‘Are they?’

Spencer nodded as he set her on the path again.

‘I don’t buy it,’ Tori said. ‘Your parents will be just as tough to crack as mine were.’

‘Ah, so you do admit that your parents are tough!’

‘Maybe a little.’

Spencer grinned. But then it disappeared. It was bad enough that his parents were going to meet Tori and her parents for the first time, but his anxieties weren’t helped by the fact that Tori’s parents had met Spencer once before and made it quite clear they hated him. But he tried not to dwell on that. Tori had told him not to worry, and briefly explained that it was all to do with some guy named Hunter that they had earmarked as a potential husband for her. It wasn’t Spencer’s fault that he wasn’t Hunter, she’d told him, but in time they would get over that. Maybe he could salvage things over Christmas, when people were feeling a little more charitable and disposed to love their fellow men?

‘Maybe we should have done all this before we set a date for the wedding,’ he said. ‘What if our parents don’t like each other?’

‘Well, at least they won’t have to see much of each other as yours live in Spain and mine live in Colorado.’

‘That will certainly put paid to a life of weekend bridge tournaments.’

‘Never mind that, what if they hate each other and it ruins Christmas for everyone?’ Tori asked, anxiety creeping into her tone for the first time. ‘We can always “forget” to ask them to the wedding, but they’re already on their way for Christmas so there’s no saving that.’

‘My mum would never speak to me again if we didn’t ask them to the wedding and Dad always takes her side over everything.’

‘Neither would my mom but I’m still prepared to risk it if you are.’

Spencer tried to smile but he couldn’t. He wanted to believe it was just because his face was so cold. ‘I’m sure it will be fine.’

‘No, you’re not. You’re chewing your lip.’

He clamped his mouth shut and pulled her close. ‘This is our first Christmas together – at least officially – and I won’t let anyone spoil that, parents or otherwise.’

About Tilly Tennant:

From a young age, Tilly Tennant was convinced that she was destined for the stage. Once she realised she wasn’t actually very good at anything that would put her on the stage, she started to write stories instead. There were lots of terrible ones, like The Pet Rescue Gang (aged eight), which definitely should not see the light of day ever again. Thankfully, her debut novel,Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn was not one of those, and since it hit the Amazon best seller lists she hasn’t looked back. Born in Dorset, she currently lives in Staffordshire with her husband, two daughters, three guitars, four ukuleles, two violins and a kazoo.