It’s a delight today to be joining the blog tour for A Christmas Wedding in the Cotswolds by Lucy Coleman: published by Boldwood Books on 2nd September, it’s now available as an e-book (and free to read through Kindle Unlimited) and also in paperback. 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).
If you read and enjoyed Christmas at Lock Keeper’s Cottage as much as I did last year (you can read my review here), you’ll have been looking forward to this one too – a return to Aysbury in the Cotswolds and the wedding we were waiting for. Lucy (and her alter ego Linn B. Halton) always has a particularly special touch with Christmas – although I always thoroughly enjoy her summery books too. The last book I read from Lucy was Summer in Andalucia – you’ll find my review here – and it was the most wonderful bit of armchair travel with great characters, a lovely slow-burn romance, and some of the best food descriptions I’ve ever read. But this time we’re back with Immie and Tollie and the narrowboats – and you’ll know it’s never too early in this house to be reading a Christmassy book…
What could be more festive than a winter wedding in the picturesque English countryside? Join us for Christmas in the Cotswolds with the bestselling Lucy Coleman.
Imogen Tolliman and Gray Adams can’t wait to get married after getting engaged the previous year, when they were stranded by snow in a blizzard. Now they are busy planning their wedding, but when the date slips six months because Gray is working on a huge film project, it seems like fate that after their snowy start, they will end up getting married at Christmas.
The couple are living in Immi’s grandfather’s picturesque lock-keeper’s cottage at the Aysbury marina in the Cotswolds, which they are renovating to become their forever family home. As well as building work, full-time jobs and wedding planning, Immi is in charge of raising money to build a children’s playground, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of The Santa Ahoy Cruises – her grandfather Tollie’s life work.
When Gray is suddenly forced to travel abroad, Immi is left to cope with everything alone, and before long, even the best-laid plans start to wobble. When a terrible betrayal is uncovered, the whole community of Aysbury is left reeling, and Immi is left wondering if there will be a wedding after all…
Let Lucy Coleman transport you away to an unforgettable Cotswolds Christmas full of romance and laughter, friendship and family and much-loved festive traditions. Perfect for all fans of Trisha Ashley, Holly Martin and Sue Moorcroft.
Immi’s never been one who likes an easy life – as well as needing to plan her Christmas wedding to composer Gray, she’s treasurer for the committee managing the rather ambitious fundraising for the local community playground, as well as supervising the work on the lock-keeper’s cottage which will be the couple’s new home. As on top of all that, she’s working for Martin at the garden centre, and there’s the small matter of organising the Santa Ahoy cruises for the local children and her usual dressing-up as an elf – and things are so much more difficult when Gray’s spending his weeks in London, on the verge of his big break, or jetting off to America at short notice.
Others can see how much she’s struggling, and take on some of the tasks – when Val and Rona enthusiastically get involved with the wedding planning it means she can concentrate on some of the details (like a dress she’ll be comfortable wearing), and Patrick’s only too happy to take over her treasurer duties. But things are going badly wrong at the cottage, with a fractured water main that needs replacing, turning the garden into a quagmire: and something’s not quite right with her relationship with her much-loved grandfather Tollie, who seems to have developed a new friendship that’s beginning to squeeze her out of his life. And then… but I think I need to stop there, and let you find out for yourselves.
I so enjoyed this book. Immi’s a wonderful lead character, and I’d already taken her to my heart when I read the first book – but if this is your first visit to Aysbury, you’ll have no problems catching up on everything that’s gone before because the author is so very good at letting you have the key details without you even noticing that she’s doing so. Immi is the story’s narrator, and it really helps you understand her various dilemmas and the way she feels about them – and it also makes you feel for her in her moments of upset and desperation, but also to share her moments of joy.
There’s a wonderful sense of community about this book – every single supporting character is so well developed, as are the relationships between them all, with a strong focus on friends and family. The relationship between Immi and Gray is just gorgeous – he still taps out the rhythms of the songs he’s composing, but much less inclined to break into “Bi-ba-bi-ba doo bah doo” than he used to be – and, although he may not be around as much as Immi would like, he certainly steps up to the plate when he needs to in the most heartwarming way possible.
The descriptions are simply wonderful – Aysbury itself, the cottage and Tollie’s new home at The Retreat, life down on the river – and, as always, there’s the most perfectly done detail on the conversion of the cottage’s interior with all the decorative and Christmassy final touches. And then there’s the wedding itself – and I mustn’t tell you too much, but it certainly brings a tear to your eye and a broad smile to your face (and yes, silver grey and soft heather are the perfect choice). And I mustn’t skirt around whether the book is as Christmassy as I wanted it to be – and although the book begins in late summer with a slow countdown to all the planned events for the festive season, the answer is a resounding “yes”.
This was a thoroughly lovely read, everything I hoped it would be – more than enough drama to keep the pages turning, filled with warmth and emotion, wonderful characters, the perfect setting, and everything you could possibly want in a Christmas read. Go on, add it to your December list – I promise you won’t be disappointed.
About the author
Lucy Coleman is a #1 bestselling romance writer: she also writes under the name Linn B. Halton. She won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award and lives in the Welsh Valleys.