Because I’ve read and reviewed another book by this author through NetGalley, the publisher kindly got in touch with me in September to let me know about this new one. Out in ebook now and in paperback on 26 November, this is an ideal cosy Christmas read from an author you can rely on.

Phillipa Ashley – “A Surprise Christmas Wedding”

(09 September 2020)

You can rely on Phillipa Ashley for a good, heartwarming book with a community setting, and although we move location here from the usual Cornwall books to the Lake District, that’s exactly what you get. She’s good at placing you in the setting, in Cornwall a believable small town and here a country estate by one of the Lakes, with visits to real towns in the area, which gives a nice extra dimension to the characters and story.

Lottie is recovering from heartbreak, having been dumped and found out her sister had a cancer diagnosis on the same day pretty well a year ago. She’s throwing herself into a new job as events manager at the beautiful house, Firholme, but it’s a new venture and there’s pressure to make money with some big showy events. So when a couple come to book a last-minute and very fancy wedding, it’s an opportunity for Firholme but then who’s the groom … yup.

Jay is living next door to Lottie and nursing heartbreak of his own. The pressure-cooker of a small community is explored well here – everyone knows everyone else, if you fall out with your brother, you will still keep running into him, and lies are easily found out and secrets exposed.

I loved the supporting workers and wedding industry folk (and there was some diversity here with a Polish cook, a resolutely unfeminine sister and several women owning successful small businesses) and the sisterly bond, tempered by serious illness. There are some nicely done children to add to the Christmas sparkle and help the plot along, and lots of Christmas rituals like Christmas tree cutting, office parties and surprises which might not happen this year – but this book can remind us of them and cheer (the author does mention the pandemic in a note at the end about how she’s found out how precious the people around her are and how she wants to reflect that in the book; no pandemic is mentioned and nor does it need to be). I also liked how resourceful and strong Lottie is and how she fits into her community, and there was plenty of detail about her work, ups and downs included. I also enjoyed the new Lake District setting, with a nice nod to Porthmellon right at the start.

A recommended Christmas cosy!

Thank you to the publisher, Avon, for making this book available to me via NetGalley in return for an honest review.