It’s a pleasure today to be joining the blog tour for Poppy’s Christmas Wishes by Annette Hannah, published as an e-book by Orion Dash on 2nd December. My thanks to the publishers for my advance reading e-copy (provided via netgalley), and to Annette and Rhea for their support.
Back in June 2020, I entirely loved Annette’s first book, Wedding Bells at the Signal Box Café – it really was romantic comedy at its very best, a gorgeous story, confidently written, and I had no hesitation in including it in my 2020 Books of the Year list (you’ll find my review here). And then – would you believe it? – she went and did it again. The Cosy Little Cupcake Van was published in March this year, and I thought it was even better – a lovely romance, strong friendship, a few misunderstandings, the ups and downs of life, and the perfect message that it’s really people that bring true happiness (my review is here). So I’m sure you’ll guess that I was rather looking forward to this one…
What would you wish for if you were granted three wishes?
For the first time she can remember, Poppy is dreading Christmas. Unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend after moving across the country for him, there’s nothing cheery about the festive season this year.
Dragged to a Christmas ball by best friend Layla, Poppy meets gorgeous actor Gabe, who stars as a genie in a play. When he asks her what three wishes she would make, she realises it’s quite simple: love, a job she’s happy in and, just once in her life, to do something extraordinary.
Gabe and Poppy make a pact to help each other make their dreams come true. As they tick off their wishes, their friendship blossoms… But, as they discover, sometimes, what you want for Christmas isn’t necessarily what you need…
A delicious romance to snuggle up with this festive season from the author of Wedding Bells at the Signal Box Café and The Cosy Little Cupcake Van.
The first thing that delighted me about this book was that we were back in the gorgeous market town of Bramblewood – after my visits with the last two books, I’ve become quite attached to it and think it’s somewhere I’d rather enjoy living too. It was so lovely, in this book, to bump into old friends from time to time – only small cameos, but something I always enjoy. But if this is your first visit, you’ll soon feel at home there too – which is more than can be said for Poppy who moved across the country to find her hopes of a happy future with the man of her dreams really cruelly dashed. She’s heartbroken and lonely, and really not that happy at work either – she makes a few friends, but the influential Britt is openly hostile, and Burger Breath Brian begins to make her life unbearable with his constant harassment.
But things become rather better when BFF Layla comes to stay – and better still when Poppy attends the office Christmas party and finds a new and rather special GBF (definitely open to interpretation!) in Gabe. His support makes her considerably braver and open to the idea of a fresh start, turning a small idea into a big opportunity and turning it into an unqualified success (I really enjoyed that whole story thread – go Poppy!). She surely wouldn’t turn her back on all that and return to the man who broke her heart, would she? And his friendship with Poppy opens up new opportunities for Gabe too – with a far larger stage than as the Christmas genie with the Bramblewood Amateur Dramatic Society.
There’s something I really enjoy about the author’s writing – it had a fluency and confidence from her very first book, and she just gets better and better. The whole book radiates warmth – with a cast of characters you take to your heart through all their highs and lows, the loveliest focus on friendship and support, and a light humour throughout that matched my tastes perfectly. And it is, of course, gloriously festive and Christmassy too – from that lovely moment captured on the book’s gorgeous cover – filled with well-handled emotional content. The story didn’t take quite the route I expected to the hoped-for happy ending, and things do get just a little complicated: but while I might have preferred a more conventional path, I certainly have no complaints. This book is sheer entertainment from beginning to end – a joy to read, and a book I’d most certainly recommend.
Shall we have an extract too? Yes, let’s do it – this is from the prologue, and you might just be as hooked as I was…
Breathlessly, they pulled away from each other. He exhaled loudly, adjusted his clothes and helped her dismount from the table.
‘So that’s the kitchen christened, which I believe is a full house.’
‘Oi cheeky.’ She slapped him playfully on the arm and slipped back into her robe, her heart still racing. ‘I don’t think we’ve done it in the airing cupboard yet.’ She laughed.
He gave her a cheeky wink and kissed her on the cheek, raising his arm behind her to check his watch as he did so. ‘I’ve probably got time for a quick coffee before I head off.’ He patted her on the bum on his way past to get his overnight bag.
Poppy had been hoping for a bit of an afterglow moment before normality kicked in, but she knew he needed to get back to Liverpool as he was back in work the next day. She filled the kettle and rinsed out his flask.
‘I wish you didn’t have to go back. It’s so unfair, we should have been moving in together.’
‘I know, I’m sorry but it just couldn’t be helped, they need me up there for just a little while longer. But it’s only a few weeks and it’ll fly by.’ He pulled her over to the living room window and cuddled her from behind, kissing her cheek. ‘Look at that view of Market Square and the amazing fountain.’
‘It is gorgeous, isn’t it? The quaint little shops, a pub on the doorstep, just a stone’s throw away from the river… and so handy for the station so I can get the train home whenever I want to.’ She laughed. ‘I’m beginning to sound like the estate agent now, extolling the virtues of the historical market town of Bramblewood.’
‘I think you’re going to be very happy here.’
‘Don’t you mean we?’ she replied.
‘Yes, of course.’ He walked away from the window, gulped down his coffee and got ready to go.
Poppy’s heart sank.
‘I’m going to miss you.’ She wound her arms around his shoulders and lifted her face to him. He kissed her passionately.
‘You too. Good luck with the new job.’
‘Thank you. Well, it’s the training course first in London. I’m a little bit nervous but I’ll be counting down the days until you join me and then it’s Christmas in New York here we come. I’m so excited for that, it’s going to be amazing.’
‘You’ll be great and I’m sure the time will fly. Bye then.’ He kissed her and went to walk away but came back and pulled her into his arms. ‘I do love you, you know. Always remember that no matter what happens.’
‘Are you OK?’ she asked.
He took a deep breath as though he was about to say something important but then shook his head. ‘I’m fine. Apart from the fact that I’ll miss you a lot.’
‘Aw, I’ll miss you too. Bye then, have a safe trip and text me when you get home.’ After closing the door, she went into the main bedroom, picked up the framed picture of the two of them from the bedside table and hugged it to her chest as she curled up on the sofa to watch a film…
About the author
Annette Hannah is a Liver Bird who relocated to leafy Hertfordshire in the 80’s and now lives near a river with her husband, two of their three grown up children and a crazy black cocker spaniel. She writes Romantic comedies in settings inspired by the beautiful countryside around her and always with a nod to her hometown.
She worked in Marketing for many years as a qualified Marketeer which she loved as it tapped into her creative side. As an avid reader, she began to review the books she read, became a book blogger and eventually plucked up the courage to fulfil her life long dream of writing a book.
For four years she was a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s new writers’ scheme, during which time she wrote a book a year. After signing a two book deal with Orion Dash in 2020 she graduated to full member of the organisation and is also their Press Officer.
She loves long walks along the river, travelling to far flung places and spending time with her friends and family.