Title: Christmas at Lilac Cottage (White Cliff Bay #1)
Author: Holly Martin
Publication Date: 23 September 2015
Rating: 4 out of 5
Welcome to the charming seaside town of White Cliff Bay, where Christmas is magical and love is in the air…
Penny Meadows loves her home – a cosy cottage decorated with pretty twinkling fairy lights and stunning views over the town of White Cliff Bay. She also loves her job as an ice-carver, creating breathtaking sculptures. Yet her personal life seems frozen.
When Henry and daughter Daisy arrive at the cottage to rent the annex, Penny is determined to make them feel welcome. But while Daisy is friendly, Henry seems guarded.
As Penny gets to know Henry, she realises there is more to him than meets the eye. And the connection between them is too strong to ignore …
While the spirit of the season sprinkles its magic over the seaside town and preparations for the ice sculpting competition and Christmas eve ball are in full swing, can Penny melt the ice and allow love in her heart? And will this finally be the perfect Christmas she’s been dreaming of?
Like a creamy hot chocolate with marshmallows, you won’t want to put this deliciously heartwarming novel down.
Thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for providing a review copy of Christmas at Lilac Cottage. There are some authors who you can guarantee to write a good festive novel and Holly Martin is certainly one of those authors!
This festive tale follows the story of ice carver, Penny Meadows. Penny lives in Lilac Cottage in the charming seaside town of White Cliff Bay. Whilst she loves her home and her job, her love life is as cold as the beautiful sculptures she creates. When Penny rents out her annexe to Henry and his daughter Daisy, her life it turned upside down. There is an immediate attraction between Penny and Henry, despite his initial frosty greeting. However, after having her heart broken several years earlier, Penny is reluctant to become romantically involved with a new man. In addition to which, Henry is so over-protective of his daughter that there may be no room for Penny in his life.
I loved reading about Penny’s career as an ice-sculptor and I would be interested to know what/how much research the author had to undertake in order to write about Penny’s unique job.
The story is set in charming White Cliff Bay, a small town full of interesting characters. It has a delightfully cosy feeling, particularly in the scenes set around Lilac Cottage.
I enjoyed the ‘will they, won’t they’ aspect of this story. Whilst this is not unusual in romance novels, the reasons behind the characters’ reluctance to become involved in each other’s lives were interesting to read about. All real relationships have their own ups and downs, and this one is no different. Although, I must admit to becoming somewhat frustrated by the main characters’ overreactions and mood swings towards each other. However, whilst somewhat exasperating, this did add to the overall story.
The characters are fantastic – real and likeable. Penny is happy in her career, yet feeling somewhat lonely in her lovely but secluded cottage. She is excited to welcome her lodger(s) as she longs for some company in the dark winter’s evenings. Unfortunately, that anticipated friendship does not prove to be quite as uncomplicated as Penny had hoped. Henry is ruggedly handsome, a loving father and great company, a man that Penny is finding increasingly hard to resist! I loved getting to know Penny and Henry and I found myself desperately wanting them to find their ‘happily ever after’ together. Characters usually form the most important aspect of a story and I found the characters in Christmas at Lilac Cottage to be relatable and appealing.
I understand that readers may recognise one or two of the supporting characters from the author’s second Christmas release, Snowflakes on Silver Cove. I have not read that book myself (although I’m eager to get my hands on a copy), so I cannot comment as to which book is best to read first, however Christmas at Lilac Cottage can be read as a standalone novel.
All in all, I think that Christmas at Lilac Cottage was probably my favourite of the 2015 Christmas releases. This was a charmingly festive and romantic tale, with a big dollop of humour and some very likeable characters – a perfect book for a winter’s night by the fire.
About The Author
Holly lives in sunny Bedfordshire in a house with round windows. She studied media at university which led to a very glitzy career as a hotel receptionist followed by a even more glamorous two years working in a bank. The moment that one of her colleagues received the much coveted carriage clock for fifteen years’ service was the moment when she knew she had to escape. She quit her job and returned to university to train to be a teacher. Three years later, she emerged wide eyed and terrified that she now had responsibility for the development of thirty young minds. She taught for four years and then escaped the classroom to teach history workshops, dressing up as a Viking one day and an Egyptian High Priestess the next. But the long journeys around the UK and many hours sat on the M25 gave her a lot of time to plan out her stories and she now writes full time, doing what she loves.
Holly has been writing for 6 years. She was shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance. Her short story won the Sunlounger competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology. She won the Carina Valentine’s competition at the Festival of Romance 2013 with her novel The Guestbook. She was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read, Best eBook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction at the Festival of Romance 2014.
Follow her on Twitter @hollymartin00