Book Review: Coming Home To Maple Cottage.

maplecottageComing Home To Maple Cottage is the final book in the latest series by Holly Martin – and definitely the one I’ve been waiting for.

I bought the first two but simply couldn’t wait until publication day to find out Isla and Leo’s story so turned to NetGalley to get an early fix.

The story is just as good as I hoped it would be; a rollercoaster of a tale full of heart and humour – and exactly what I’ve come to expect from Holly, who writes with such wonderful warmth.

Here’s the blurb:

Isla Rosewood is creating a new life for herself and her sweet nephew Elliot in their cosy, yellow-brick family cottage, brimming with special memories. Living in Sandcastle Bay was never part of Isla’s plan but, after her brother Matthew’s tragic accident, her whole world changed as she unexpectedly became a mother to the little boy she adores so much.

Leo Jackson was always known as Matthew’s fun-loving and wild best friend. But now Matthew is gone, it’s time to put his colourful past behind him. His role as Elliot’s godfather is the most important thing to him. And even though Leo and Isla are two very different people, they both want to give Elliot the childhood he deserves.

As the three of them enjoy time together watching fireworks, baking cakes and collecting conkers, Isla begins to see a softer side to charming Leo, with his twinkling eyes and mischievous sense of humour. And, despite herself, she begins to fall for him.

But does Leo feel the same way? Isla knows their situation is complicated but is it too complicated for true love… or will the year end with a happy new beginning for them all?

While I think this book would work as a standalone, I definitely felt more connected to all of the characters knowing a bit more of their backstory from The Holiday Cottage By The Sea and The Cottage On Sunshine Beach. While I enjoyed all three, I think because Isla and Leo’s story had been teased in the other two, this was the one I was most looking forward to.

As always, Holly creates a cast of eclectic, likeable characters who can all see how much Isla and Leo belong together – and do their best to help them along.

Little Elliot provides a fair few comedy moments – along with the indomitable Agatha –  as well as provoking a few tears too.

While I’m happy to know how Isla and Leo’s story concludes, I’m sad that there are no more books in the series.

The only consolation is that hopefully, even as I type, Holly is hard at work on her next book.

Format: Kindle.

Price: £1.99 (via Amazon).

My rating: Five stars.

With thanks to Bookouture for making me very happy by letting me read the ARC (via NetGalley) in return for an honest review.

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Book Review: Christmas At Hope Cottage.

ChristmasathopecottageIf Lily Graham ever fancies a break from writing contemporary fiction (and I hope she doesn’t) I think she’d make a brilliant food writer – as highlighted in her latest book, Christmas At Hope Cottage.

I guess when your main character does it for a living you also need to know your stuff but it’s more than just dropping the odd technical term in, she makes food seem magical.

That’s just one of the things I enjoyed about this book, which I found very hard to put down.

Here’s the blurb:

When thirty-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?

Poor Emma, it never rains but it pours. I don’t want to give anything away but she has more than just broken bones to contend with. I did find keeping up with where she was in the healing process a little confusing at times – although I was quickly distracted from pondering her injuries by her wonderfully eccentric family. They don’t live an easy life but it is a purposeful one, full of love and laughter.

The story switches between past and present with ease and you get a real sense of why Emma is the way she is. There are some darker moments in this book but it’s all the better for them.

Lily very cleverly steers you in different directions and just when you think you know how you want things to play out, she inserts a little doubt here and there and you change your mind. Thankfully, in the end, it all works out just as it should (or at least just as I felt it should).

Format: Kindle.

Price: £1.99.

My rating: Four stars.

With thanks to Bookouture for the ARC (via NetGalley) in return for an honest review.