Curl up on dark nights with three winter-warming novels - book reviews

Meet a young woman determined to find a new life after a terrible tragedy, enjoy a Christmas canine crisis in snow-filled Devon, and travel back in time to drama on the windswept hills of County Durham.
Winter Without You by Beth GoodWinter Without You by Beth Good
Winter Without You by Beth Good

Winter Without You by Beth Good

When Hannah Clitheroe’s boyfriend dies in a tragic accident, she hopes to find solace in a house she has inherited from grandmother in a wild and wonderful corner of Cornwall.

But the peaceful new life she had imagined is shattered when she discovers that her troublesome next door neighbour claims he has more legal right to the remote cliff-top house than Hannah.

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Draw the curtains, put a log on the fire and steep yourself in this gorgeous winter-warming story from Beth Good whose cuddly, cosy romance novels have made her the queen of hearts.

After the tragic death of her Greek boyfriend Santos in an accident, Hannah Clitheroe is hiding away from the world but when she discovers she has inherited a house in Cornwall, she makes the move to the small, cosy town of Pethporro, knowing in her heart that it’s time to face reality.

Hannah never knew Trudy Clitheroe, the grandmother that Hannah’s mother had cruelly told her died shortly after she was born, but Hannah instantly feels a connection to Kernow House. With her heightened sensory perceptions, Hannah feels as if it had been ‘waiting’ for her to arrive.

Trudy had lived in Kernow House for years but Hannah soon learns that someone else thinks it’s rightfully theirs. Raphael Tregar, a difficult yet incredibly handsome man, claims that years ago his adopted grandfather, Gabriel Tregar, won the house from Hannah’s drinking, gambling grandfather in a game of cards.

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She is told that Raphael is a cold fish but he has a lot of local influence, with his finger in a lot of Pethporro’s pies, and Hannah, determined to keep the house at all costs, is disturbed to find that he quickly gets under her skin.

But as winter sets in and Christmas approaches, Hannah starts to fear that she may not find her true home in Cornwall after all…

Winter Without You has all the ingredients of a true romance… plenty of drama, some intriguing secrets, two sparkling lead characters, an entertaining supporting cast, and lashings of love, laughter and tears.

Filled with Good’s trademark humour, wit and warmth, this is an enchanting story that begins in tragedy but evolves into an uplifting and satisfying tale of hope, renewal, friendship and new beginnings.

The perfect antidote to cold, dark nights…

(Quercus, paperback, £8.99)

Not Just for Christmas by Natalie Cox

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Self-confessed dog lover Natalie Cox delivers the cutest (and funniest!) Christmas canine package in this captivating story of a city girl trying desperately to escape the festive frenzy.

With a cast of hilarious and adorable pampered pooches, some dishy leading men, and misadventures and misunderstanding aplenty in the beautiful countryside of rural Devon, this is a fabulous feel-good romantic romp.

Charlie hates the holidays, and this year is shaping up to be her worst yuletide ever. Her boyfriend Lionel has left her for his personal trainer, her London flat is out of bounds after a gas leak, and her mother has gone to spend Christmas in Melbourne with her fifth husband.

Finding herself single, mildly concussed and temporarily homeless, Charlie reluctantly agrees to dust off her wellies and spend the festive season in Devon, looking after Cosy Canine Cottages, her cousin Jez’s dog-care centre where coddled dogs are kept in individual ‘suites’ rather than cages or pens.

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Charlie is definitely not a ‘dog person’ and even though her idea of fun is not a ‘bunch of yappy, overfed terriers,’ she will settle for a quiet rural Christmas while her home is being repaired. But her plans go up in smoke when Jez announces she is off to Lapland for 12 days for a romantic first meeting with her Viber friend.

The horrified Charlie is left to care for a menagerie of dogs including Malcolm the deaf Great Dane, Peggy the heavily pregnant beagle and Slab the 16-year-old poodle who is so ancient that he can barely stand.

There are also the added complications of Hugo, Malcolm’s gorgeous (but engaged) owner, and Cal, the undeniably attractive but unbearably haughty and patronising local vet who ‘isn’t exactly what Jane Austen would call amiable.’

Is Christmas destined to be a dog-sitting disaster?

Cox has a Christmas ball in this captivating canine confection which includes dog-napping dramas, witty wordplay, a sprinkling of surprises, and a veritable whirlwind of snow that puts an extra sparkle into the seasonal setting.

Reading heaven for romantics and dog lovers!

(Orion, paperback, £6.99)

The Coal Miner’s Wife by Elizabeth Gill

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A beautiful story about a young woman torn between love and duty is set to win hearts as North East saga queen Elizabeth Gill returns with the first book in her new Deerness series.

Born in in Tow Law on the Durham fells, Gill loves her home territory, and her books, which now number over forty, reflect her natural warmth, her affinity with the folk of this tough corner of the country, and her gift for insightful storytelling.

The Coal Miner’s Wife, a gritty, moving tale set in the early years of the 20th century, is packed with drama, emotion, heartbreak and atmosphere as Vinia’s story unfolds against the backdrop of a tough, close-knit rural community in the brooding, windswept hills of the North East.

When Vinia walked down the aisle, she knew it was a marriage of practicality. As the owner of the local coal mine, Joe Forster could provide her with a life of status. He has also given her financial security, a large, sprawling house on the fells of County Durham, and his constant kindness and devotion. But what they don’t have is a child of their own.

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The truth is that Vinia’s heart lies with another man... with gypsy blood in his veins and an intense passion in his soul, pit worker Dryden has always held a torch for Vinia. But he too has been trapped in a loveless marriage in which his greatest joy has been their young son Tommy, a child who has also been loved and cherished by Joe and Vinia.

Now, with the premature death of his wife Esther Margaret from cancer, Dryden vows to make good on the lost years when he and Vinia were apart. Is this Vinia’s chance of happiness… or will she be forever destined to marriage with a man she admires but has never loved?

Gill is a warm, compassionate and humane storyteller with an acute awareness of what makes people tick, and this compelling story is full of the wisdom and understanding that has made her such a popular author.

(Quercus, paperback, £6.99)