Monday 30 November 2015

Book Review - Christmas in the Park by Laura Lockington

Amazon UK
Title: Christmas in the Park
Author: Laura Lockington
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Review copy from publisher
Publisher: Endeavour Press
Publication Date: 20th October 2015
Rating: 4 Stars

30-something Sarah has finally decided to start her own business. After years of 5 a.m starts, running around a busy television studio, she has decided to hand in her resignation, and begin her dream of running her own cake making business. Swapping her stylish clothes for tracksuits and an apron she gets to work, and is thrilled when the local café agrees to start selling her treats. 

And – even better – she starts to get to know the handsome and single owner, David. 

Working from home also means she can finally do one other thing she couldn’t do with her hectic job – get a puppy. Deciding she wants a rescue dog, Sarah heads off to the local dog’s centre, and tries not to say yes to adopting the whole lot. 

One beautiful little Dachshund with adorable amber eyes immediately takes a liking to her. And Sarah knows there is no turning back. 

She bundles Malteaser up and takes him home, and before long he is helping her to meet new people in her local park.  But Malteaser can be more than a bit of a handful. And Sarah knows she is no good at disciplining him... 

So when fellow dog-walker Nick steps in to give her hand she knows she should take his advice. But does he just want to help her out, or is he interested in something else? 

With an excitable puppy, and lots of orders to bake for the café, could Sarah be taking on too much? And could there be something there with David – or Nick? 

With Christmas on the way, and the café suddenly coming under threat, things get even crazier. And Sarah has to find a way to create a magical Christmas in the Park... 

‘Christmas in the Park’ is a warming festive novella, full of sweat treats, doggy disasters and snippets of romance. 

I'm not ashamed, nor sorry to say that I am a huge sucker for a pet dog in a book, and Malteaser is no exception.  He is a Dachshund with lovely colouring and a beautiful personality. As a rescue dog he is a bit shy initially, but he soon warms to Sarah, and becomes the key character of this story. 

Sarah has swapped jobs, from TV Producer to cake maker, supplying to cafes, and as a result throughout this story we hear about the fabulous cakes she is baking. They may not be the most exotic sounding cakes, but there was enough detail to make your mouth water. 

With all the great food descriptions, I was happy to see a recipe included at the end, and if I had the slightest talent for baking I would have gladly given it a go!

Thanks to Malteaser, she is getting to meet a lot of new people, and 2 men become prominent in Sarah's life for different reasons. The question you are wondering for a lot of the story is which one will she end up with. 

Nick has two dogs of his own, and seems to be quite strict with them. David part owns the cafe that Sarah is supplying with baked goodies in the middle of the park. The cafe also likes dogs, so Malteaser is even welcome.  And then there are all the other dog walkers, with their various quirks, but all love the cafe and are all happy to join in the fight to save it. 

Christmas in the Park is a sweet festive romance, with lots of food, a fabulous Christmas day, dogs and a lot of humour. Written in a chatty style, this is a reasonably easy to read short story, and has proven to me that the one book I have read by Laura Lockington in the past wasn't a fluke. I last read one of her books probably about 10 years ago in paperback, loved it a lot, and then didn't see anything else by her, until the last year or so, where her books were popping up in kindle recommendations. 

Thanks to Endeavour Press for this review copy. This was my honest review.

Book Review & Giveaway - A Christmas Hideaway by Emily Harvale

Amazon UK
Title: A Christmas Hideaway - A Hideaway Down Novel: Volume 1
Author: Emily Harvale
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Review copy from author
Publisher: Crescent Gate Publishing
Publication Date: 26th November 2015
Rating: 5 Stars

You can’t hide from Love. Holly Gilroy was devastated when her long-term boyfriend, Paul ran off with Naomi, her best friend. Now Paul and Naomi are back in Hideaway Down for Christmas but Holly has no intention of bumping into the happy couple. Cooking and cleaning for the guests at her Mum’s holiday cottages is one way to avoid that. Because she can’t let Paul see she’s still in love with him… can she? 

Gabriel Hardwick is desperate to finish his novel… and avoid his agent, Bryony Dawes – who also happens to be his girlfriend. At least that’s what Bryony’s still telling everyone. Will Gabriel’s decision to spend Christmas alone in a rented holiday cottage finally make Bryony see that it’s over between them? And is that really what Gabriel wants? 

But they’re not the only ones with problems this festive season. It’s the coldest winter for years and the villagers and visitors in Hideaway Down are finding warmth in the most unexpected places… and not just from the roaring log fire in the hearth of The Snowdrop Inn.

A Christmas Hideaway has all the elements you need for a great festive story. It has a picturesque small village, Hideaway Down, snow, Christmas decorations and markets, a frost fair, ice-skating, Santa, some corny elf jokes, and most importantly a wonderful romance. 

Holly had not overly been looking forward to Christmas this year. Last New Year's eve, her boyfriend of 15 years, Paul, ran off with her best friend, and insultingly only told her in a note. They are due back in Hideaway Down for Christmas, and Holly doesn't want to risk bumping into them. She has also been made redundant recently, so is helping out with her mums holiday cottages. 

Gabriel Hardwick, is an author, who decides to rent one of the cottages for some peace and quiet over Christmas. He broke up with his girlfriend 2 months previous, but there is the added complication that she is his agent too.  Gabriel rents Ivy cottage, and gets more than he bargains on from Hideaway Down. 

This is a romance that grows slowly, although its obvious to the reader that Gabriel and Holly should be together, they both have various roadblocks in their lives to deal with, but they soon become friends, and find they are seeking out each other's company. 

Hideaway Down is a wonderful small village, where all the villagers know each others business, almost faster than it occurs. And every village must have a quirk, and the Gaggle Gang is definitely Hideaway's Down. The gaggle gang are a group of geese that live in one of  the villagers sheds, but that generally wander the village causing laughs and its clear they believe they run the village. There is an ice-skating scene involving the Gaggle Gang that conjures up all sorts of hilarious imagery. 

I really felt like a part of village life in Hideaway Down, and really looking forward to the next book in this series, Catch A Falling Star. I have a feeling that there could be a good amount of stories to be told within this village, and I will be looking forward to each and every one of them. 

Thank you to Emily Harvale for this review copy. This was my honest opinion. 

Giveaway to win a signed copy of A Christmas Hideaway (Open Internationally)

Emily Harvale has very kindly offered readers of Rachel's Random Reads the chance to win a signed copy of A Christmas Hideaway

Giveaway open internationally, all options are voluntary, but please do what they ask, as I will be verifying the winner. Giveaway closes 23:59 4/12/2015. Winner will be announced on twitter and emailed, and they will need to reply within 7 days, or forfeit the prize, and I will re-draw for a new winner.  Good luck everyone.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday 29 November 2015

Guest Post - Christmas with Becca by Rebecca Pugh - #CarinaChristmas

As my finale to #CarinaChristmas I am delighted to welcome to Rachel's Random Reads, Rebecca Pugh, Carina author and also fellow book blogger, and all around lovely lady. As you read this post, I think you may be able to get a feel for what Rebecca is like when she gets enthusiastic about something so enjoy.

It’s no secret that I'm a complete Christmas fanatic. I'm sure that I'm already doing everyone’s head in with my Christmas talk, festive emojis and, quite frankly, childish excitement, but in our house and with a family like mine, it’s impossible for me not to get completely wrapped up within the magic that Christmas time brings.

I'm the eldest of seven children, five girls and two boys, so as you can imagine, whether I want to be excited or not, I don’t really have a choice in the matter. As soon as I step through the door on Christmas Eve, I'm completely swept up in the simmering excitement that’s practically fizzing over from the others. It’s everywhere you turn. From the Christmas tracks playing in the kitchen as Mum prepares the veg, turkey and Victorian trifle, to the Christmas movies playing non-stop in the lounge which is where you’ll usually find my siblings. There’s no escaping it, but to tell you the truth, I wouldn't want to escape it anyway.

Christmas Eve is usually spent with me talking Mum’s ear-off in the kitchen as she tries to focus on what she’s doing. I can’t help it. The kids will flutter about, in and out of the rooms, bouncy with excitement until they’re sent off to bed. Do they go straight to sleep? Of course they don’t. My youngest sister will go up and down the stairs about 57395739 times before she even gets remotely tired, which is difficult for Mum, my step-dad and me because we need to bring the presents out of their secret hiding place and into the lounge, without being seen! In the end, we’re all up past midnight, moving back and forth as we separate the gifts into different piles around the lounge. I love these moments. They’re always special to me. I love the feeling of the wrapping paper in my hands as I place each present down. I love imagining the kids’ faces when they wake up in the morning and see what Santa left them. Am I a silly fool? Probably, but it’s Christmas and, when all is said and done, there’ll come a time, one day in the future, where each of us will have grown up and those special moments will be but memories as we try to recreate the same magic for our own children. Anyway, moving swiftly on before I start blubbering… We head off to bed, parting with, “See you on Christmas morning!” I know. So cheesy.

Because I'm a complete idiot, I'm the first one awake on Christmas morning. I set an alarm, mainly because I do not want to miss a single second. I don’t know about you, but when I wake up, there’s something magical in the air on Christmas day. I don’t even have to get out of bed and it’s there, urging the excitement to rise and rise until I can’t take it anymore. I'm up and out, flicking the kettle on for a nice cup of coffee. I made a terrible mistake last year and woke up so early that I was left sitting around for hours before anybody else rose. I’ll usually settle myself down in the lounge while I wait. I’ll look at the presents, get excited all over again and will everyone to wake up through mind-power before I explode. I always know when my youngest sister is up because above me, I’ll hear little footsteps. The rest will surely follow. And down the stairs they’ll come, one by one, smallest first, bouncing into the lounge like they've got springs attached to their feet.

There’s a rule though. Not a single present is to be unwrapped until Mum and step-dad are awake. So we wait. Shivering with excitement, half-asleep, I’ll usually make us all a hot drink, and the kid’s will examine their presents with sleepy-eyes, desperate to tear off the paper. Once Mum and step-dad arrive, it’s bin-bags a-plenty and a little cheer as the throwing of paper commences. With all of us gathered around, it’s fair to say that the lounge carpet disappears pretty quickly as the kids fling their wrapping paper left, right and centre. I’ll open my presents too, grinning because I just LOVE IT, ALL OF IT! Once we’re all finished, Christmas Day dinner is kick-started. The kids will begin to take a closer look at their gifts, now that the frenzy of opening them is over. Toys will come out of boxes. There’ll be a mad dash of needing batteries, untwisting those little wires so that the dolls can break free from their boxes.

The rest of the day, until it’s time for Christmas dinner, rolls along. The scent of Turkey and stuffing fills the air and the Christmas songs are playing in the kitchen once more as Mum adds the finishing touches to the plates. We’ll all sit down together, usually having to pull a few spare chairs from the garden to the table to make space for everyone. Mum’s friends, who would usually spend Christmas Day alone, are invited for dinner too, which is just one of the millions of reasons why I love her. We dig in, savouring the taste because it only comes around once a year, doesn't it? Dinner is followed by Mum’s signature trifle, and after that, it’s lazing around the lounge as if we’re stuffed turkeys ourselves.

I won’t lie, it’s not perfect. The kids will, at some point and without a doubt, end up squabbling over something. Someone will knock a drink over at the table or lose a piece of Lego amid the kerfuffle that’s essential to finishing a Star Wars structure. But it’s fun, and the chaos is ours, and things just wouldn't be the same without it.

So my lovely fellow book lovers & authors, I wish you a very merry Christmas, filled with joy, laughter, books and of course, lots and lots of delicious food! However you’re spending yours, I hope you have fun and create a bundle of special memories that you’ll look back on one day with the fondest of smiles.

Becca xxx

About Rebecca Pugh

Rebecca Pugh grew up in the green county of Shropshire, with a mind full of fairy-tales and happy endings. Enchanted by true love and Disney Princesses, she decided that no matter what life threw her way, she’d continue to see the world through a child’s eyes. Through the pages of countless books, her adoration of reading blossomed, and it didn't take long for her to fall under the spell of hundreds of authors’ words. 

Now, Rebecca’s own story has taken a fairy-tale like turn, and at 22, her dream has come true. With her faithful companions: Bonnie the dog, her partner, and her gigantic family by her side, Rebecca is ready to share her stories with readers who enjoy falling in love and losing themselves within beautiful, fictional worlds.

Rebecca Pugh is the author of women’s fiction and romance, her all-time favourite genres. After all, who doesn't enjoy a good swoon? 

Return to Bluebell Hill, Rebecca’s debut novel, was published 18th June 2015 by Carina UK. Her second novel, A Home in Sunset Bay, follows in February 2016.

Links for Return to Bluebell Hill - Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US
Link to pre-order A Home in Sunset Bay - Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US

Link to Becca’s Books -

Thank you to Becca for that insight into your Christmas Day. I can only hope that one day I am lucky enough to experience a Christmas like that. 

Thank you to everyone authors, bloggers, readers for supporting my Carina Christmas event. I really hope you have enjoyed reading everything, as much as I enjoyed putting it together, and perhaps have a few new ideas for books you would like to read, or authors to try.  Merry Christmas!

For more #CarinaChristmas click here

Guest Post & Giveaway - Jenny Oliver talking about Christmas Foods - #CarinaChristmas

Word of warning - Jenny Oliver has written us a delicious guest post, so grab a mince pie, pull up a chair and enjoy! And don't forget to enter her fantastic giveaway too after reading.

There’s nothing better than the anticipation of Christmas and, along with all the amazing smells - the pine of the tree, the mulled wine - nothing beats the tastes of the festive season. Combine this with a lovely bit of list making and ta dah, I give you my top ten Christmas foods. There must be so many unique variations of this theme and I’d love to know what Christmas tastes like to you! 

So here we go… 

- Top of the list has to be the sherry and mince pie for Santa and the carrot for Rudolph. When we were small we’d leave a card out that said, ‘Santa, please sign here…’ In the morning the food would be gone, our stockings would be full and Santa’s shaky signature would adorn the dotted line.

- Mince pies in our house are always tiny with little pastry stars as lids. You can eat them in one gorgeous, sweet mouthful. My job growing up was to stand on a stool by the kitchen counter and cut out the stars. 

- I adore those iced white german gingerbread biscuits that appear in the shops every Christmas. From Google I’ve learnt they’re called - Pfeffernusse Lebkuchen. One is just not enough and suddenly, poof, they're all gone. 

- For Christmas lunch, Delia Smith’s red cabbage and apple. Try it, you’ll never look back!

- Chocolate Christmas Cake. Ours is three layers deep with chocolate butter icing and is shaped like a little house. My dad doesn’t like fruit cake so it’s always been chocolate. 

- On the subject on chocolate… Foil-wrapped chocolate tree decorations. Always irresistible. And always one hiding at the back of the tree when it’s time to take it down. A last minute treat. 

- Turkish delight and Medjool dates. Always ignored by us growing up, we could never fathom why anyone would choose them over a Quality Street. Now I love them. 

- Party canapés. I’m a sucker for finger food - little Yorkshire puddings, a prawn on a stick or a vol au vent. So moorish and never quite enough to feel like dinner - however many you eat. 

- Roasted chestnuts - a bit burnt from being forgotten about in the oven but mouth-burningly delicious all the same. 

- The satsuma at the bottom of the stocking. Best eaten with all the chocolate coins. 

I wish you very happy Christmas eating! Tweet me (@JenOliverBooks) and Rachel your festive favourites.

Love Jenny x

Four Weddings and a White Christmas is out now:

Giveaway to win paperback copy of The Little Christmas Kitchen & The Parisian Christmas Bake Off (Open Internationally)

Jenny Oliver has very kindly offered two lucky winners a copy of one of her previous Christmas books in paperback. The books up for grabs are The Little Christmas Kitchen and The Parisian Christmas Bake Off.

Due to there being two separate prizes of a different book, I have decided to run two separate rafflecopter giveaways, one for each, so you can enter either or both, depending which would you like to read. They are both fantastic so if you haven't had the opportunity to read them before, I would recommend trying your luck. 

Giveaways are open internationally  all options are voluntary, but please do what they ask, as I will be verifying the winner. Giveaway closes 23:59 4/12/2015. Winner will be announced on twitter and emailed, and they will need to reply within 7 days, or forfeit the prize, and I will re-draw for a new winner.  Good luck everyone.

About Jenny Oliver

Jenny Oliver wrote her first book on holiday when she was ten years old. Illustrated with cut-out supermodels from her sister’s Vogue, it was an epic, sweeping love story not so loosely based Dynasty.

Since then Jenny has gone on to get an English degree and a job in publishing that’s taught her what it takes to write a novel (without the help of the supermodels). She wrote her first book The Parisian Christmas Bake Off on the beach in a notebook that would end up covered in sand each afternoon and damp from the sea. This time the inspiration was her addiction to macarons, the belief she can cook them and an all-consuming love of Christmas. When the decorations go up in October, that’s fine with her!

Jenny’s books also feature her love of all things vintage, Sunday morning car boot sales (on the hunt for the thrill of a bargain) and an unwavering belief in happy ever after! (Whatever she’s loving on TV might crop up as well!)

So far Jenny’s books The Parisian Christmas Bake Off, The Vintage Summer Wedding and The Little Christmas Kitchen have enjoyed chart positions in the major supermarkets and other fabulous book shops. Most recently she has written a brand new ebook series, all set around the idyllic Cherry Pie Island, that kicks off with The Grand Reopening of Dandelion Café and (currently) ends with Four Weddings and a White Christmas! Mouthwatering, feel-good and perfect for curling up with on cold winter days.

Follow her on Twitter @JenOliverBooks or take a look at her blog 

See all of Jenny's books on Amazon UK

Thank you Jenny for your mouth watering post about Christmas food, and not a turkey in sight! And thank you for the two fabulous prizes you are offering too. It has been a pleasure hosting you.. even if I am now very hungry!

For more #CarinaChristmas click here

Book Review - Four Weddings and a White Christmas by Jenny Oliver - #CarinaChristmas

Amazon UK
Title: Four Weddings and a White Christmas
Author: Jenny Oliver
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Carina
Publication Date: 8th October 2015
Rating: 4 Stars

Welcome back to Cherry Pie Island…the most delicious place to spend Christmas!

Hannah’s holidays are normally spent nibbling chocolate coins with her daughter and praying she’s not too old for a stocking on Christmas morning. But this year, she’s been offered the dressmaker’s job of a lifetime: creating a one-of-a-kind a gown for her friend Annie’s Christmas wedding on the picture-perfect Cherry Pie Island.

Many mince pies and one hot-pink organza dress later, Hannah is set to snuggle back into her old routine…until she discovers that there are three more weddings to come – and not a dress in sight!

Four themes, four brides and four parties spent avoiding chef Harry Fontaine, whose cynicism is as much a wedding day guarantee as confetti and cake. Hannah has her work cut out for her! Yet, with a sprinkling of snowflakes and Christmas magic, it could be that this is the year when miracles really do happen…if Hannah will let them.

Celebrate four very special weddings with Jenny Oliver in the soon-to-be Christmas classic: Four Weddings and a White Christmas. Four very good reasons to get out in the snow and fall in love!

I'm sorry to say that although I read the first of the Cherry Pie Island series, I somehow missed out on reading the others, and at the point I spotted this Christmas book, I just haven't had the time to go back and catch up, and decided to see how much it mattered that I had missed out on parts of the series. 

Thankfully Four Weddings and a White Christmas does work as what I have to assume is the series finale, to Cherry Pie Island, as a standalone. From my point of view, its a lovely story highlighting four weddings and of course including a White Christmas in there too. 

Having glanced at the blurbs of the rest of the series, I am coming to the conclusion, that the four weddings features in this book, are the "happy ever afters" for the four focal characters one in each of the previous books, and thus the more of them you have read, the more invested you probably are in this final book. 

This is Hannah and Harry's story. Hannah is a talented dressmaker, who has just finished getting her degree, and is offered the chance to make Annie's Christmas Kistch themed wedding dress. From that one she then gets further commissions. Hannah's Christmases tend to include a lot of last minute dress making, but she doesn't really mind, and she is really into a family Christmas, with daughter Jemima, 5, and all the extended family around her. 

Harry on the other hand, lives in New York, is a top chef and very stubborn and set in his ways, and all he wants for the perfect Christmas is solitude and not with his family.

Harry and Hannah are very different but yet after some chance meetings at the various weddings, they start to get under each others skin. 

I would say the main focus of this book is romance and weddings, more than Christmas, but all the weddings are really different, and offer fabulous contrasts, as do the dresses that Hannah designs. When there is Christmases though, you do start feeling festive with the descriptions, especially with Annie's wedding, which feels like its over the top Christmas themed, but you can't help smiling at it. 

Jemima though is my absolute favourite character. At only 5 years old, you can get a real sense of who she is, and what she will be like when shes older. She takes a real liking to Harry, and the seafood BBQ scene is brilliant, and not what I would have expected seeing, with Harry and Jemima's interactions. 

On the assumption this is the last Cherry Pie Island book, its a fitting and fabulous finale to the series, I just wish I had read others from it first!

Thank you so much to Netgalley and Carina for this review copy. This is my honest opinion. 

For more #CarinaChristmas click here

Book Review - Christmas is Cancelled by Aurelia B.Rowl - #CarinaChristmas

Amazon UK
Title: Christmas is Cancelled
Author: Aurelia B. Rowl
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied review copy
Publisher: Carina
Publication Date: 1st December 2014
Rating: 4 Stars

It's impossible to forget...

Matilda 'Tilly' Carter has had the week from hell - and now, with all trains cancelled, it looks like Christmas will be too! With a mascara-streaked face, a broken heel and nowhere to go, there's never been a worse time to run into the man who once broke her heart. Especially when he looks better than ever. 

The one that got away...

For Dean, Christmas has always been hard. The Tilly standing before him is no longer the firecracker of his memories--even if the way she makes his heart race hasn't changed at all. He is determined to uphold the promise that kept them apart nine years ago. But spending a cosy Christmas with Tilly would break a better man and each accidental touch, heated look and stolen kiss is taking its toll on Dean.

After all this time, can the magic of Christmas bring Tilly and Dean together at last?

Christmas is Cancelled, may be a touch on the short side, but it definitely packs a punch. It is fast paced and fits in a fair amount of back story, especially with regards Dean's character.

Dean comes back into Tilly's life after a 10 year absence and its clear there is still something between them. However out of misguided loyalty, Dean is determined not to act on his feelings and is just trying to help an old friend out over Christmas. 

Tilly on the other hand has nothing left to lose, on Christmas Eve, she lost her job, best friend, boyfriend and home all in one go (doesn't take much to guess what happened), and then her train to Southampton is cancelled, so she can't visit her brother over Christmas. Tilly does declare her heart to Dean and from there the book gets really good. 

I loved the reveal of Dean's past, and the way the book ended was really clever, and let us in that little bit more. This feels like a whirlwind romance, with only one other character present, and is fairly frenetic in its non stop action. It is not plain sailing, but the drama adds to the charm of this story. 

Quite a sexy romance novella for Christmas, and as the title suggests its not full of Christmas spirit or magic, but is a story between two people, one of those has had bad experiences in Christmas pasts, and needs the other more than they will ever believe!

Thank you to Aurelia B. Rowl for this book. This is my honest opinion. 

For more #CarinaChristmas click here

Saturday 28 November 2015

Book Review - This Christmas by Katlyn Duncan - #CarinaChristmas

Amazon UK
Title: This Christmas
Author: Katlyn Duncan
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied review copy
Publisher: Carina
Publication Date: 18th November 2014
Rating: 3.5 Stars

This year, if Hadley wrote her dream Christmas list, it would go something like this:

1. Spend every waking – and sleeping – moment with her incredibly gorgeous boyfriend, Will.

2. Figure out what’s been bugging him lately. Yes, going away to college has been tough…but it’s time they reconnected.

3. Enjoy a sparkling Christmas in New York City, gazing at the Rockefeller tree, going ice skating, and drinking steaming mugs of cocoa in Central Park.

So, driving off to spend Christmas in a rustic cabin in the woods wasn’t exactly the plan. But when it comes to her irresistible, and at times, impossible boyfriend, nothing’s ever that simple. And as fantasies of an icy Times Square are replaced by a clumsily decorated tree, making snowmen and the warmth of a log fire, Hadley feels herself falling in love all over again.

Except does Will have something to tell her that could change Hadley’s happily-ever-after Christmas dreams into a not-so-winter wonderland after all?

Don't miss this festive sequel novella to This Summer

This Christmas is an incredibly short, but very easy to read short story, about Hadley and Will's Christmas. It may not have been the Christmas that Hadley was originally dreaming of spending with Will, but when they are offered the use of a rustic cabin, out of town, they can't resist it. 

After a busy few months they are in need of spending some quality time together. So why is Will acting weird and should Hadley be worried about their future. 

This Christmas is a sequel to This Summer, which I haven't read. I think this can be read as a standalone, and its a quick snapshot into their life. I do feel though that I would have enjoyed it a lot more had I read the first book.  

There is no real depth to the characters, which I know is hard to achieve in such a small page count, and I was very surprised to see the book finish on 73%. I have a feeling this was meant as a sequel and that I should have taken the time to read This Summer first. 

It does though give me an insight into the author's writing which I did enjoy, but I just got the feeling that it could have been better. This Christmas will definitely though leave you feeling more Christmassy than when you start reading it. 

A very likeable Christmas short story, and I would be happy to have the opportunity to read more of Katyln Duncan in the future to see what she can do properly.

Thank you to Katlyn Duncan for this review copy. This was my honest opinion. 

For more #CarinaChristmas click here

Book Review - Forever His Darling by Sarah Randall - #CarinaChristmas

Amazon UK
Title: Forever His Darling
Author: Sarah Randall
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Purchased
Publisher: Carina
Publication Date: 16th October 2014
Rating: 3 Stars

A little Christmas love in the country

Anastacia Harper is at the top of her modelling career - famous simply for being beautiful. But as Christmas approaches Ana can't face another holiday alone in the fake celebrity world she inhabits. She's desperate for a change of scenery and desperate to find the girl she once used to be…

Brooding and gorgeous, all Matt Darling wants to do this Christmas is lock the doors of Melville House and keep the world at bay. The last thing he needs is a model flouncing about in sequins pretending to be a country girl, but it looks like he doesn’t have a choice.

When the snow falls suddenly Ana and Matt find themselves trapped at Melville House with only each other for company. But there is magic in the air at Christmas that might just help Ana and Matt find exactly what they are looking for under the tree…

Lovely hot and steamy romance, set at Christmas time. 

I found though that although at times I was really enjoying the book (ie, the sex scenes!), I found the story felt slow in places, and I was struggling to properly care about the characters. 

That being said, I did like Ana's outings to the local village, and how she treated the villagers, and the trout fishing section was fun, especially from Matt's point of view. 

I just felt that this was a fairly predictable, run of the mill romance story, and even though I do like straight forward stories, this one just didn't grip me, and I felt like I was fighting myself and/or the book to read it. I'm not sure if it was the story, or just me that was at fault, and there were as I say some good points, just not enough, at some points to  make me love the book. 

For more #CarinaChristmas click here

Guest Post & Giveaway - Christmas in New York by Katlyn Duncan - #CarinaChristmas

Thank you so much to Katlyn for sharing that makes New York magical at Christmas, and for the giveaway too. It has been a pleasure hosting you on Rachel's Random Reads for #CarinaChristmas.

I love reading Christmas/winter novels. There is something about curling up on the couch with a mug of hot chocolate (or a glass of wine) and falling into the seasonal spirit. When I finished writing ‘This Summer’, I pondered where Will and Hadley would end up. I knew I wanted to write a Christmas novella and New York City would play a part in it. I wanted to share with you some of my top favorite things to do when I go to NYC around Christmas-time.

Coming off the train at Grand Central Terminal, I take a detour to the Bryant Part Holiday Shops ( They remind me of pop-up shops for festive crafts, unique shopping and some really great food! And it has a really great ice skating rink! (Fun fact, a scene from Glee was filmed on the rink!) And it’s free, definitely a place to check out! 

After I’ve explored the shops and checked out the skaters, I head down Fifth Avenue to Saks and check out the light show!. For some reason, it’s one of those experiences that really gives me goosebumps! It gets better and better every year!  (I don’t own this video but it’s a really great representation if you’ve never been to NYC at Christmas!) 

The last two things I like to do are in the same place… Rockefeller Center! It’s hard to ignore the gigantic, gorgeous tree in the middle of Rockefeller. So first, I usually take pictures with it in the background, which you can pretty much do from anywhere as it does get crowded, and then head closer to see the ice skating rink. This one is not free like the one in Bryant party but it’s so fun to people-watch the skaters below. 

I absolutely love NYC at Christmas-time and it’s a tradition that I look forward to each year.

What Christmas tradition do you always look forward to?

Giveaway to win an e-copy of This Christmas (Open Internationally)

Amazon UK
Katlyn Duncan has kindly offered readers of Rachel's Random Reads a chance to win an e-copy of  This Christmas, in either mobi or PDF file format. 

Giveaway open to everyone, all options are voluntary, but please do what they ask, as I will be verifying the winner. Giveaway closes 23:59 4/12/2015. Winner will be announced on twitter and emailed, and they will need to reply within 7 days, or forfeit the prize, and I will re-draw for a new winner.  Good luck everyone.

About Katlyn Duncan

Katlyn Duncan was born and raised in a small town in western Massachusetts. Her overactive imagination involved invisible friends, wanting to be a Disney Princess and making up her own stories. Her bibliophile mom always encouraged her love of reading and that stayed with her ever since. Even though she works full time in the medical field Katlyn has always made time for books, whether she is reading or writing them. 

Katlyn now lives in southern Connecticut with her husband and adorable Wheaten Terrier and she is thrilled to finally share her stories with the world.

Amazon Author Page

This Christmas Book Trailer: 

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