Today it’s my great pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour for the magical Christmas release from author Lily Graham, Christmas at Hope Cottage. With thanks to Kim Nash for inviting me to be a part of the tour. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the book just as soon as we’ve seen what it’s all about.
The Official Book Blurb
In the little village of Whistling, with its butterscotch cottages and rolling green hills, snow is beginning to fall. Christmas is coming, and Emma Halloway is on her way home.
When twenty-eight-year-old food writer Emma Halloway gets dumped then knocked off her bike, she’s broken in more ways than one, and returns to her family’s cosy cottage in the Yorkshire Dales. Emma hasn’t been back in some time, running from her crazy relatives and her childhood sweetheart, Jack Allen.
Emma’s grandmother is determined to bake her back to health and happiness, as the Halloways have done for generations. Surrounded by old friends and warm cinnamon buns, Emma starts to believe in her family’s special talents for healing again. But then in walks Jack with his sparkling hazel eyes, stirring up the family feud between them.
As the twinkly lights are strung between the streetlamps, Emma remembers just why she fell for Jack in the first place… and why a Halloway should never date an Allen.
The infuriating new lodger, Sandro, doesn’t believe anyone should have to choose between love and family. With a little bit of Christmas magic, can Emma and Jack find a way to be together, or will Emma find herself heartbroken once more?
An utterly gorgeous Christmas romance about the importance of family, freshly baked biscuits, and learning to trust your heart. Perfect for fans of Phillipa Ashley, Debbie Johnson and Debbie Macomber.
If you are looking for a fabulous book which has a delicious combination of laughter, romance, tears and new beginnings, then this is most definitely the book for you. If you are a Christmas Grinch without an ounce of festive cheer in you … well read it anyway. Like me (I’m a Grinch) you just find you love it.
When Emma’s boyfriend Pete breaks up with her just before Christmas, she thinks that this is the worst of her problems. Until, that is, she heads to the shop to buy the necessary supplies to drown her sorrows and promptly gets knocked of her bike. Suffering life changing injuries, Emma has no option other than to leave her London home and head back to her old village and the safe care of her Grandmother. But she is no ordinary grandmother and Emma’s is no ordinary family. Much like her mother before her, Emma had been trying to forget her roots, to ignore the pull of the old family recipe book in the hope of living a ‘normal’ life without all of the baggage that comes with being a Halloway. But Emma soon comes to learn that life really is nothing without a little magic.
From the very beginning as a reader you find yourself drawn into Emma’s overly dramatic world. Battling relationship woes and avoiding her slightly eccentric family, Emma has been working as a journalist writing columns on the traditional aspects of cooking, a passion instilled within her from her time living at Hope Cottage. But when her accident leaves her incapable of looking after herself, her leg and arm broken and all of her senses rewired in the most dramatic of ways. Everything she loved is now out of her reach and this is captured so effectively in Lily Graham’s writing. It must be a truly awful feeling to have a passion for food but not be able to taste anything. A wonderous love of the sights and smells of food but not be able to see clearly or smell anything. The smell thing may be a bonus given than her broken arm and leg and lack of balance make it hard to shower, but it is still a truly unenviable position to be in.
Despite her woes, or perhaps increasing them, the injuries force Emma to return to the village in which she grew up – the village she had run away from in order to escape the impossible to achieve love she feels for local resident Jack Allen. The Allen’s and the Halloway’s have a very dark history, one which the Allen’s seem unable to forgive and forget, and as a result any relationship between the two children was impossible. But can age and a little distance make either of them see sense and can Emma rekindle a romance that never quite started with the person she believes is the love of her life?
Well… possibly. But then she didn’t count on meeting her Grandmother’s lodger, Sandro. Sandro runs the local Tapas Hut and has infinite patience for Emma, despite her moods. From their very first meeting he gets under Emma’s skin, his being the first face she truly sees in focus since the accident. He is warm and funny where she is testy and often cold. Easy to forgive when you think of her predicament. But is there more to their occasional conflicts, nearly always of Emma’s making, than meets the eye?
I really enjoyed the way in which the author has woven in a very subtle element of magic into the story. There is no outright statement that we are in the presence of a family of witches, although that is surely what is implied. The recipes that the Halloway family make are as much about hope as they are guarantee, and perhaps it is the power of belief, or superstition, which is the key to the recipe’s success far more than it is magic. But what is clear is that when a Halloway bakes, strange things start to happen, and a price must always be paid.
I loved the characters within the book, especially Emma’s Grandmother Evie and her two Great Aunts, who are all wonderfully eccentric and larger than life characters. The women definitely rule the roost in this book, quite right too, and for once the idea of the matriarch is strong and dominates the Halloway family line, something not all prospective suitors are happy about. However, it is possibly also due to the strong female characters in this book that the feuds continue way beyond what is reasonable. We ladies do seem to like to hold a grudge now…
With some of the story told in flashbacks to Emma’s childhood, we learn much more about her and her family. Of the conflict which caused the rift between the families of Whistling, and the past which will ultimately shape Emma’s future. And it is a joy to see her slowly recover, to rediscover a love for baking and perhaps find out something about herself which she isn’t expecting, even though to everyone else it’s as plain as the nose on her face. Perhaps Emma has her double vision to thank for that one.
This is a beautifully crafted story of family feuds and forgiveness; misunderstanding and suspicion; romance and a little bit of festive magic. How can you resist?
My thanks to publishers Bookouture for the advance copy of the book for review. Christmas at Hope Cottage is available now from the following retailers.
About the Author
Lily grew up in dusty Johannesburg, which gave her a longing for the sea that has never quite gone away; so much so that sometimes she’ll find sand grouting the teaspoons, and an ocean in a teacup. She lives now in the English countryside with her husband and her sweet, slobbering bulldog Fudge, and brings her love for the sea and country-living to her fiction.
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Why not check out some of the other brilliant blogs taking part in the tour?