I can’t believe it took me so long to discover Linn B Halton’s gorgeous writing, but now that I have I’ll make sure I never miss one again. I really enjoyed my time in the Italian sun with The Secrets of Villa Rosso (catch up on my review here), and now I’ve equally enjoyed Christmas at Bay Tree Cottage, published by Harper Impulse on 3rd November, and available from Amazon in the UK and US. My thanks to netgalley and the publishers for my advance reading copy, and to Brook Cottage Books for inviting me to join the tour. If you’re looking for a gorgeous Christmas read, you really won’t want to miss this one…
The countdown to Christmas is usually a magical time, but Elana James is fed up with living on a building site! The renovations on her beautiful cottage – like her heart – have been frozen in limbo ever since she was unexpectedly widowed.
Elana calls in a professional, Luke Stevenson, to help finish the cottage, so her little girl can send letters to Santa up the newly-repaired chimney. Luke’s kind, capable and sexy – but he’s also ten years younger than Elana. So why has her heart decided it’s finally time for a thaw?
The perfect read to curl up by the fire with…
This was one of those books where the characters won my heart from the opening pages, and made me really care about them. Many of you will be aware of my occasional aversion to children in books, but I would have perfectly happily cuddled both Elana’s daughter Alexa and Luke’s little son Joe. Mind you, I’d have been fairly happy to cuddle Luke too – what a lovely guy! And what’s a little unusual about this book is that we hear Luke’s voice and perspective every bit as clearly as we hear that of Elana, and if there were ever two damaged people who more deserved to find a happy ending, I haven’t come across them yet.
All the relationships in this book are just so beautifully drawn – mother/daughter for Elana and Alexa, father/son for Luke and Joe, the warmth and intensity of every contact between Luke and Elana, but all the wider ones too with the extended family, friends, love interests, and slightly difficult neighbours. The author’s flair for interiors comes into play in the renovation of Bay Tree Cottage – I’m looking for red fairy lights now to put among my logs, and nervously tapping my plaster – and there’s even a little touch of her familiar magic which brought a little tear to my eye. Heavens above, there’s even a kitten!
I loved this book – and should you have space on your Christmas reading list, I’d highly recommend it to all.
Fancy an extract? My pleasure…
‘Mum, can we light the log fire tonight?’ Maya looks up at me with eager eyes.
‘I think we should wait until the weekend, darling. There isn’t really time to appreciate it on a school night, is there? Besides, I’m not even sure whether there are any logs left in the store. I promise to get it sorted as soon as I can.’
It was Niall’s job, sorting the fire. He would have booked the chimney sweep in early autumn and had the logs all ready and waiting, stacked neatly against the back wall of the garage. Ironically, last year I was much more organised. I suppose it was one of my coping mechanisms during those raw, early weeks and months. Keep going; keep doing something – anything, so I didn’t have to listen to what was in my head. But I feel bad. Maya will remember that this time last year we spent every evening huddled together on the sofa in front of the fire, reading. Hour upon hour we escaped into alternative worlds inspired by some wonderful authors. Roald Dahl’s Matilda, E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, and Maya’s favourite, Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch, a story of tenderness and triumph.
It was the very worst of times, but I focused on getting us through it one day at a time. My gut instinct, immediately after the accident, had been to sell the cottage just to escape that prevailing sense that something was missing. Niall was no longer here and it would never, ever be the same again. But soon realisation dawned that Maya needed a sense of continuity; the memories trapped within these walls were a lifeline for her, although a cruelly painful reminder for me. In a way she feels her dad is still here and I can’t take that away from her.
With thanks to Linn and tour organiser Brook Cottage Books, I have a lovely Christmas giveaway – the chance for one lucky reader to win a pamper kit (UK only, and no purchase necessary).
Here’s the rafflecopter for entry:
About the author
Bristol-born Linn lives in the Forest of Dean, in the UK. She resides there with her lovely husband and cat, Ziggy. She has been writing novels since 2009 and has written short stories for a number of magazines. She is also known for her series of ‘Home by Design’ articles wearing her former interior designer hat.
“I’m a hopeless romantic, self-confessed chocaholic, and lover of coffee. For me, life is about family, friends, and writing. Oh, and the occasional glass of White Grenache …”
An Amazon UK Top 100 best-selling author with A Cottage in the Country in November 2015, Under The Stars also became a best-selling novel in November 2016. Linn’s novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award.
Linn writes chick lit, romantic comedy, women’s contemporary fiction and psychic romance. Publishers include Harper Impulse, Choc Lit and Endeavour Press.