Four Christmas novelsBack in November I ordered a little pile of Christmas books to read over the festive period. But then I didn’t read enough of my actual TBR and Kindle (esp NetGalley) books to really be able to commit to reading all four of them, so I’ve put two aside for next year and just read these two. I did of course also read Paul Magrs’ “Christmassy Tales” which was a stand-out read for me that I will re-read next year. I’ve ended up saving the two books set on Scottish islands, so that will make a nice pairing next year – and who knows, I might get the other books in their series in the meantime (only if I’m a Very Good Girl for at least the first half of the year …)

The reason I say that is that one of these books is a standalone (or possibly the first in a series) while the other is the second in a series, and I didn’t find the latter as emotionally engaging – I suspect you do need to have read the first one first to really care about the characters.

Jane Linfoot – “A Cosy Christmas in Cornwall”

(November 2020)

Jane Linfoot doesn’t shy away from putting her characters through trauma and this one is no exception – our heroine Ivy is still recovering from an awful car accident, scarred physically and psychologically, and the only way she can cope is by throwing herself into doing things for other people. So she’s down in Cornwall, providing the advance party at a seaside castle which she’s going to style the whatsits out of for her best friend’s sister’s perfect Insta Christmas. But TeamChristmas comes up against the grumpy caretaker, more used to other kinds of guests, and a battle ensues to make things pretty before the guests arrive. When they do, we end up with testosterone-laden baking competitions, a merry band of silver surfers and a very cross client. It’s all a whirl and very amusing, but with jolts back to reality when Ivy reacts badly to certain elements but has to keep her feelings to herself. Cleverly, Ivy and her love interest have met before, so chemistry has been simmering, allowing quick developments over the Christmas period.

I loved the mentions of Santa, Mr Santa and their Christmas pony sleigh and the wedding shop itself from the Little Wedding Shop by the Sea books. Less lovely was the boiler going, as I was reading this all wrapped up after our own boiler had gone! But it is a classic Christmas event, so I will forgive the author that one! There is a dog and the dog is fine.

Loads of details and a gentle poke at the idea everything has to be picture perfect, with a good side helping of doing your own thing and being the best you you can make this a satisfying and jolly read. And it’s set in Cornwall, by the sea!

Cressida McLaughlin – “The Canal Boat Cafe Christmas”

(November 2020)

This is in a series and there has been a lot to contend with in the first book, including a fire and some other trauma and the main character, Summer, inheriting her mum’s canal boat cafe and deciding to run it herself, after running off with a group of travelling canal boat dwellers, and getting together with hunky wildlife photographer Mason.

Now Summer has decided she wants to make things more formal with Mason but before she can formulate her plans, she’s invited by those rovers to go down to Little Venice in Camden to attend a Christmas market. Will there be intrigue from an ex of Mason’s trying to make trouble? Of course. Will there be ice on the canal? There’s also lots of lovely detail about running a canal boat cafe, some lovely friendships, some peculiar drinking venues and two distracted people forgetting to communicate with each other … oh, and a certain larger gentleman with a white beard and twinkly eyes! And two dogs, which are fine.

One annoyance I had (which I don’t recall from this author’s Cornish Cream Tea Bus novels) is that the book was originally published as two short e-books, and half-way through this one we get a wodge of repetitive exposition which is there for if you are reading the second one without the first or a while afterwards. It wouldn’t have taken much editing to excise this and it jerks the reader into a bit of confusion and a lot of thinking how the publisher has worked on their monetising. it’s quite hard to find the correct editions of the Cream Tea Bus so I’m assuming the same will happen with this one – so watch out.

Otherwise, an undemanding and romantic book with the realities of canal boat life firmly to the fore and a nice Christmas read.

I’m getting back to non-Christmassy books for a bit now. Have you read any good ones?  And sorry to bombard everyone with reviews but I don’t like having reviews hanging over from one year to the next! I still have a Christmas acquisitions post to write, and my Best Of 2020 (and stats) will come out on 1 January, just in case I finish something a maz ing on New Year’s Eve!