A pleasure today to be joining the blog blitz and sharing my review of Christmas at Aunt Elsie’s by Emily Harvale, the second stand-alone novel in her new series set in the seaside village of Seahorse Harbour. Published on 30th September, it’s now available both for kindle (free via Kindle Unlimited) and in paperback. Thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to Emily for the advance reading copy.
Remember Summer at my Sister’s – when Josie first landed in Seahorse Harbour, and found it overflowing with tasty men? You’ll find my review of that one here, and it’s so lovely to be back there again, this time in the company of Lottie – and it’s no longer summer, the snow is falling…
A distant relative. A blizzard. A Christmas of surprises.
Lottie Short isn’t looking forward to Christmas. Her boyfriend has dumped her and she’s also lost her job. Lottie and her beloved spaniel, Merry, are facing the festive season – and a bleak future, alone.
But a Christmas card and round-robin letter give Lottie hope. And as the first snowflakes fall, she’s on her way to the tiny seaside village of Seahorse Harbour to visit her distant aunt. She’ll stay in a cosy B&B and get some bracing, sea air. That might lift her spirits.
What she doesn’t plan for is a blizzard, her aunt taking a fall, or the dramas unfolding all around her. But at least there’s a warm welcome at Aunt Elsie’s cottage … and a roaring log fire in the village pub.
That’s not all that might bring a rosy glow to Lottie’s cheeks. Asher Bryant, the local vet is pretty hot, and Lottie also hits it off with another visitor to Seahorse Harbour. This festive season might be better than she hoped.
And when Lottie gets more than one surprise this Christmas, perhaps she and Merry won’t be spending the New Year on their own.
I’m so pleased I discovered Emily Harvale’s books and lovely writing – always a joy to read, whisking you away from whatever your troubles might be, bringing a smile to your face. And I’m really enjoying spending time in Seahorse Harbour – I know my way around now, although it all looks rather different covered with snow.
You really don’t have to have read Summer at my Sister’s to enjoy this – there’s some really effective catching up, cleverly done, via the gossipy landlady at the B&B where Lottie and her characterful spaniel Merry are staying, and any remaining gaps are very quickly filled once the cast begins to assemble.
I liked Lottie from the very beginning – she’s lost both of her parents (and has an edge of sadness about her), made a few big mistakes, been dumped by her boyfriend (who really didn’t sound that wonderful anyway), and has now lost her job too (but certainly didn’t leave quietly). She remembers the kindness of Aunt Elsie at her parents’ funeral – not a blood relative, but she had an open invitation to visit – and decides to spend Christmas at Seahorse Harbour and spend some time with her again. Walking Merry soon after her arrival, she meets Asher – the village vet, and rather gorgeous – and wonders if her stay in Seahorse Harbour might have more to promise than just a little time with family.
The welcome she gets is a warm one – and through Aunt Elsie she gets pulled into a lovely family Christmas, with a few little dramatic moments along the way. If you read the first book, it’s a lovely chance to catch up with Josie and Diana and see how life’s been treating them – and there are certainly a few unexpected developments there. And then there’s one dramatic moment that eclipses all the others… and no, of course I’m not going to tell you what it is, but it comes as a real surprise and it’s beautifully handled.
I really so enjoyed this one – all the well drawn characters that the author always does so well, relationships you believe in, a lovely focus on friends and family, lots of laughs (and a few moments of real poignancy), and a developing romance that warms up rather nicely and was everything I wanted it to be. It’s wonderfully Christmassy too – full of lit-up shop windows, sparkling lights, a Christmas carol service, mince pies and boozy mugs of hot chocolate, and more than one glass of egg nog. The sense of place is really excellent – if Seahorse Harbour is a nice place to be under the summer sun, it’s even lovelier under a blanket of snow. It’s not a complicated story, just some gentle twists and turns – the pace might just slow a little at times when earlier events need explaining, but no complaints from me.
I do hope we’ll be seeing more books set in Seahorse Harbour – there’s certainly a character or two I’d still like to see finding their happy ending. The whole book felt like a lovely cuddle, and I think that’s something we could all do with at the moment – I loved it.
About the author
Emily writes novels, novellas and short stories about friendship, family and falling in love. She loves a happy ending but knows that life doesn’t always go to plan. Her stories are sure to bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your heart.
Emily loves to connect with her readers and has a readers’ group in which many have become good friends. To catch up with Emily, find out about the group, or connect with her on social media, go to her website at www.emilyharvale.com.
Having lived and worked in London for several years, Emily returned to her home town of Hastings where she now writes full-time. She’s a member of the SoA and the RWA, an Amazon bestseller and a Kindle All Star.
When not writing, she can be found enjoying the stunning East Sussex coast and countryside, or in a wine bar with friends, discussing life, love and the latest TV shows. Chocolate cake is often eaten. She dislikes housework almost as much as she dislikes anchovies – and will do anything to avoid both. Emily has two mischievous rescue cats that like to sprawl across her keyboard, regardless of whether Emily is typing on it, or not.