I’m delighted today to be joining the blog tour for Winter Wishes at Swallowtail Bay by Katie Ginger, and sharing my review: published by HQ Digital on 7th October, it’s now available for kindle via Amazon in the UK and US, with the paperback to follow on 10th December (available for pre-order). My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance reading copy (provided via netgalley).
I think it’s about time I visited Swallowtail Bay, don’t you? This is Katie’s sixth book, and I’ve never before been able to fit one into my reading list – but I’ve always noticed the excellent reviews from blogger friends. Katie joined me here as part of the blog tour for Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bay back in June – a lovely guest post about writing the book, that you can read again here – and I made a promise to myself (and to Katie and Rachel too) that I’d read her next. And when could be better for my first visit than at Christmas?
Grab your cosiest jumper and escape to the beautiful Swallowtail Bay!
Christmas and romance are in the air and Nell is obsessed! She can’t stop watching her favourite Christmas romcoms and dreaming of the day when she meets her own romantic hero, especially as she is hosting the first ever wedding at her small hotel, Holly Lodge.
Nell’s best friend, Tom, has been in love with her ever since they met. But Nell has never seen him that way, and he’s always kept his feelings a secret in case it ruins their friendship.
After the opening of the glamorous Langdon Mansion Hotel in the bay, Nell’s hotel is struggling for survival and she must fight, with Tom’s help, to keep Holly Lodge open. Can the magic of Christmas help two old friends save Holly Lodge and open Nell’s eyes to a love that was always there the whole time?
Winter Wishes at Swallowtail Bay is the hilarious new romantic comedy from Katie Ginger, perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley, Veronica Henry and Holly Martin.
Well, I think I’ve found another author to add to my “favourites” list – I’m really kicking myself that I didn’t discover Katie Ginger’s lovely writing rather sooner. I immediately felt at home in Swallowtail Bay – it’s somewhere I’d love to live too, with its gorgeous little shops and the sound of the waves breaking on the pebble seafront. And if I couldn’t live there and needed to pay a visit, there couldn’t be a lovelier place to stay than Holly Lodge – and no, the glitzy Langdon Mansion Hotel wouldn’t attract me at all, although its presence has certainly seen a downturn in business for Nell, who cares for every guest who comes through her doors as if they’re friends or part of her family. She’s having a really hard time, can see everything slipping away, and needs to come up with some ideas to help her business survive – or this Christmas might just be the end of her hopes and dreams.
It’s a good thing she has friends to help her out – Cat and Kieran will be holding their wedding at Holly Lodge, and she hopes it’ll be the first of many. But that’s only if they manage to make it as far as the ceremony – Brenda, Cat’s mother (what a great character!) is trying to take things over, riding roughshod over all Cat’s ideas for a perfect day, and the resulting stress is causing real problems. And then there’s lovely Tom – Nell’s rock, always there in support, one of the best friends anyone could hope for, and the only one who can’t see how much he loves her is Nell herself.
I really loved Nell, with her romantic dreams and penchant for Christmas romcoms – she wears her heart on her sleeve, and you share the joy of all her little triumphs and hurt for her when things don’t go quite how she wants them to. And when the villainous pair at the posh hotel decide they’d like to get rid of the competition, things begin to get very difficult for her, and she really can’t see what she can do to put things right. And it turns out that Tom’s life isn’t a bowl of cherries either – he’s such a lovely man, supporting Nell at every turn, running his florist shop, visiting his grandfather at the care home – and the issues he’s facing give the story a darker edge (so well handled) that adds real emotional depth to the story.
But all the characters are wonderful – Kieran with his shaved head and brash exterior but a marshmallow centre, Cat getting increasingly manic and behaving quite out of character as her big day slips out of her control, and every single more minor character who plays a part in the wonderful story. Goodness, even Mr Scrooge the cat is perfectly drawn – he’s a stray who wins Nell’s heart and decides he’d rather like to make Holly Lodge his home too.
This book is gloriously Christmassy, with all those lovely little touches as the friends prepare the Lodge for the various events – with floral displays from Tom, Nell’s favourite wooden ornaments on the tree along with the tinsel and sparkling lights, and Niall’s wonderful food creations that you can smell and taste. But it’s never cloying – this is how Nell’s going to save her business, every detail has to be absolutely right (and it most certainly was for me).
The romance was simply wonderful – Nell’s waiting for the man of her dreams to cross the threshold (might it be Harry, the American staying for a while to visit his family – or maybe even the man who thinks Mr Scrooge might just be his cat?), and she really can’t see that the love of her life has been there beside her all along. The emotional content to the story (and there’s plenty!) is judged perfectly – it does put you through the wringer at times, and I’ll admit that by the end I’d had to wipe away quite a few tears, but the whole book (and its perfect ending) left me with a large smile on my face.
Heartwarming, uplifting, emotional, full of lovely comedy moments, such a wonderfully drawn location, a great story with characters I really loved – this book was quite wonderful. Go on, add it to your Christmas list – you’re going to love it too.
About the author
Katie Ginger lives in the South East of England, by the sea, and she really wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Winter Wishes at Swallowtail Bay is her sixth novel. She is also the author of Spring Tides at Swallowtail Bay, Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bay, Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage and the Seafront series – The Little Theatre on the Seafront, shortlisted for the Katie Fforde Debut Novel of the Year award, and Summer Season on the Seafront.
When she’s not writing, Katie spends her time with her husband and two kids, and their dogs: Wotsit, the King Charles spaniel, and Skips, the three-legged Romanian rescue dog. (And yes, they are both named after crisps!)