Sparkling romance for the Christmas season By various authors - book reviews -

Christmas is coming and love is in the air with a dazzling collection of winter-warming novels that were just made for fireside reading.

By Pam Norfolk
Wednesday, 27th November 2019, 4:26 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th November 2019, 10:31 am
The Christmas Wish List
The Christmas Wish List

Christmas is coming and love is in the air with a dazzling collection of winter-warming novels that were just made for fireside reading.

The Christmas Wish List

Heidi Swain

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Light the fire, cuddle up close and escape into the magic of Christmas with much-loved belle of the baubles Heidi Swain.

Author of a clutch of sparkling romantic novels for every season, her festive feasts include Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market, Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair, and Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland.

Swain has captured the hearts of thousands of readers with her enchanting stories set in Wynbridge, the fictional Fenland town where love blossoms whatever the season. Brimming with life and love, laughter and tears, and guaranteed to leave readers with that elusive sense of feelgood, these magical books are the perfect accompaniment for holidays, getaways, and especially winter nights.

Here we meet Hattie who, after being let go from her job in a swanky hotel just weeks before Christmas, is feeling lost, and even more so when her high-flying boyfriend Jonathan announces he has landed his dream job in Abu Dhabi and asks her to move with him.

Luckily, Hattie’s long-time friend Dolly (who just happens to be fifty years older and wiser than her) is on hand to help and invites Hattie to spend one last holiday in the small, quintessentially festive town of Wynbridge. She is determined to give Hattie a Christmas to remember… but does she also have another plan up her sleeve?

When Hattie arrives, holiday preparations are in full swing but for Hattie, whose Christmas cheer has long since run out, it will take more than mince pies and mistletoe to open her heart to the season once more.

Relishing the task of reigniting Hattie’s Christmas spirit, Dolly suggests they create a wish list of all the things the season can offer, and with the helpful hands of Wynbridge’s resident handyman, Beamish, Hattie works through the wish list and finds her frosty exterior is starting to thaw.

As Wynbridge prepares for its most spectacular Christmas yet, will Hattie leave snowy England behind for life in a sunnier clime, or will she realise that her heart’s desire lies much closer to home?

The Christmas Wish List is the perfect reading treat with snowy landscapes, roaring fires, and gorgeous romance reminding us all that Christmas really is the time for fun, hope, friendship, festive cheer… and an extra-large helping of love!

(Simon & Schuster, paperback, £7.99)

Emmerdale at War

Pamela Bell

For forty-seven years, TV viewers have been tuning in to share all the drama, joys and heartbreaks of the residents of Beckindale, a village tucked away in the heart of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales.

Emmerdale Farm, or Emmerdale as this hit ITV series is now known, is the nation’s second-longest-running television soap opera after Coronation Street, and still attracts over seven million viewers six times a week.

And now Pamela Bell’s enthralling saga series, which follows the fictional lives of Emmerdale’s much-loved families, through the triumphs and disasters of the early decades of the 20th century, is capturing the hearts and minds of readers.

Following on from Christmas At Emmerdale and Spring Comes to Emmerdale, the third saga finds Britain at war once again and the families of Emmerdale trying their best to cope with a new way of life.

Rationing has been introduced across the country, two million more men have been called up for service, and blackouts, evacuees and military training camps have become the norm. In Beckindale, three young women are about to find their lives changed forever...

Annie Pearson is working on Emmerdale Farm, while her love, Edward Sugden is at the front line. Lily Dingle has found purpose in joining the ATS, though she may get more than she bargained for. And Meg Warcup, now teaching at the local school, has taken in two children evacuated from Hull. They have adjusted to their new way of life until one day a German plane comes crashing down in the village... and changes everything in Beckindale.

Will the nation's favourite village overcome adversity to deal with the loves and lives lost?

Just as in the TV series, family life is at the heart of this engrossing story as the personal dramas, passions, triumphs and disasters play out amidst all the turmoil and uncertainties of wartime in a tightly-knit village community.

Beautifully written and researched, and filled with warmth, nostalgia, rich period detail and fascinating characters, this is the perfect Christmas gift for both Emmerdale and saga fans.

(Trapeze, hardback, £12.99)

One Christmas Night

Hayley Webster

When presents go missing from a row of Victorian terraced houses in a Norwich street, the dismayed residents fear that Christmas will be ruined.

But there are secrets and, in some cases heartbreak, behind the doors of Newbury Street, and it’s going to take some serious soul-searching to get to the heart of the thefts.

It really would be a crime to miss Hayley Webster’s clever and compelling Christmas novel, a feast of mystery, emotions and feelgood festive spirit, written with warmth, insight and tenderness, and just perfect for the season of love, hope and giving.

Community, relationships, and the bonds of kinship and friendship are all explored in this gentle, socially aware, and ultimately uplifting story about a group of people from all walks of life who are brought together to solve a troubling mystery.

Christmas just won’t be the same in Newbury Street. Presents have been going missing from residents’ homes and there are rumours going around that it’s one of their own who has been stealing from the neighbours.

Festive spirit is being replaced with suspicion and the inhabitants of Newbury Street don’t know who to trust. The police presence isn’t helping matters either, especially as they all have something to hide.

But Christmas is a time for miracles... and if they open themselves up to hope and look out for each other, they might just discover the biggest miracle of all.

This festive fable about the disconnection between rich and poor, those who seem to have a lot and those who feel they have very little, is perfectly tuned to Christmas and its message of love, understanding and coming together.

Expect laughter, mystery, a few tears, high emotion and plenty of Christmas cheer as Webster delivers a magical gift for lovers of beautifully observant seasonal stories.

(Trapeze, paperback, £8.99)

The Wedding on Mistletoe Island

Sophie Pembroke

Christmas is a time of love, hope and friendship… so here’s a book that packs in those three emotive topics and sprinkles them with wintertime magic.

The Wedding on Mistletoe Island is the perfect book to cosy up with as author Sophie Pembroke brings us the charming and thoughtful tale of a party of old friends sharing a week on a remote Scottish island as they count down to a Christmas wedding.

The snow is falling, the guests are arriving… and there is a whole decade of secrets to be revealed before the big day arrives.

Fliss’s friends have arrived for a week at Holly Cottage on the island of Mistletoe, off the western edge of Scotland, to celebrate her forthcoming wedding. It’s ten years since Fliss first came here with her university friends to celebrate their graduation and it seems the perfect way to kick off her new life… but is it?

The problem is that Ruth wishes she was anywhere other than this remote island, Caitlin is keeping a secret from her friends, Lara is suddenly facing her ex-boyfriend Jon a decade after turning down his proposal, and even Fliss, the bride, has something to hide.

As the friends prepare for a week to remember, will Fliss’s dream wedding go off without a hitch, or will the secrets they have been hiding change everything?

Pembroke delivers so much more than just a Christmas romp. This is a story of self-discovery written with warmth and insight, exploring how real life wreaks many changes, and revealing that friendships run deep… and that reunions sometimes spring more surprises about ourselves than we could ever have imagined!

Christmas romance with a thoughtful edge…

(Orion, paperback, £8.99)

Snow Angels

Nadine Dorries

Born and raised on a council estate in Liverpool in the 1950s and 60s, politician Nadine Dorries is fulfilling a childhood dream in her ‘second’ career as a successful novelist.

The MP for Mid-Bedfordshire, who now combines her high-profile job with writing nostalgic sagas set amongst Liverpool’s tight-knit communities of the city where she grew up, returns to St Angelus Hospital for a charming Christmas story in her popular Lovely Lane series.

Snow Angels is a beautiful festive treat set in a Liverpool hospital, not unlike the ones where she trained as a nurse before founding a successful childcare business, Company Kids, and then entering politics and winning election to the House of Commons in 2005.

In this Christmas special, Dorries invites her readers to spend the season of hope with the nurses of St Angelus where love, laughter, tears and heartbreak are never far away in the run-up to the festive season.

Christmas is coming, but will the doctors and nurses of St Angelus get a chance to enjoy it? Sister Emily Haycock and husband Dessie are anxiously counting the days until the signing of final adoption papers for their precious baby Louis. But someone has got it in for them, and Emily is about to get caught out in a dangerous lie.

Victoria Baker is now Mrs Davenport and heavily pregnant. But as the snow begins to fall, has she made a big mistake about her dates and put the life of her unborn baby at risk?

And who is the figure obsessively watching St Angelus from the shadows, and the mystery woman who turns up one dark, windy evening, begging for a room at Malcolm Coffey’s Seaman’s Stop bed and breakfast?

Only one thing is certain... this Christmas season will be anything but peaceful.

Dorries writes with warmth, charm and insight, and readers will adore steeping themselves in the lives and loves of the doctors and nurses at St Angelus as more than a few surprises are guaranteed to keep the emotions high, the smiles on full beam, and the pages turning.

The perfect cuddle-up book for the Christmas countdown…

(Head of Zeus, paperback, £7.99)

A Winter Hope

Sheila Newberry

A mother of nine children and twenty-two lively grandchildren, Suffolk-born Sheila Newberry knows a thing or two about family…

Published most of her adult life, her family has certainly been her inspiration and this charming, Christmas-themed novel packs in all the warmth, wisdom and heartfelt emotions that have always been the trademarks of her writing.

Previously published as The Family at Number Five, A Winter Hope is set in London in 1932 as a family move into their new home, desperate to find a place of their own where they can live, love and thrive.

Number five Kitchener Avenue – in a row of sturdy, red brick Victorian villas – heralds the start of a new life for the Hope family. For pregnant Miriam it is a warm and safe environment to bring up her child. For her sister, fourteen-year-old Barbara (Bar), it means independence… and the company of boys. For Miriam’s husband Fred, the home provides the security he craves for his young family.

In the lead up to Christmas, the Hopes settle in and start to make happy memories in their new home. But the Second World War is just around the corner, and their carefree life can’t last. Soon the family are split up. Bar, who wants to do her bit for the war effort, joins the ATS, while Miriam and her children are evacuated to the countryside, away from husband and father Fred.

As the country is thrown into turmoil, can the Hope family come back together and find the happiness they had yearned for?

Newberry brings us a beautiful tale of life changes, sacrifice, separation, longing and wartime drama in this nostalgic and gently uplifting winter-warmer which is perfect for fireside reading.

(Zaffre, paperback, £7.99)