My grateful thanks to Emily Burns at Bonnier Zaffre for a copy of Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin in return for an honest review. Originally released in e-book, Christmas at Lilac Cottage is now available for purchase in paperback too here.
Christmas at Lilac Cottage
Snow is falling on White Cliff Bay, where Christmas is magical and love is in the air . . .
Penny Meadows loves her cosy cottage with its stunning views over the snow-topped town of White Cliff Bay, but not even the roaring log fire can keep her personal life from feeling frozen.
That is until dashing Henry and his daughter Daisy arrive at the cottage for the festive season. And between decking the halls and baking delicious mince pies, Penny realises there is more to Henry than meets the eye.
With sleigh bells ringing and fairy lights twinkling, the ice-sculpting competition and Christmas Eve ball are in full swing. Will Penny be able to melt the ice and allow love into her heart? And will she finally have the perfect Christmas she’s been dreaming of?
My Review of Christmas at Lilac Cottage
Penny has been so hurt in the past that her lonely existence has become the norm, but that could just be about to change when she rents out the annexe to her cottage.
Christmas at Lilac Cottage is my first Holly Martin read and it certainly won’t be my last.
I have one negative comment that I want to get out of the way first and that it the over use of the word ‘arse’! It appears much too often as an insult, an endearment, a reprimand, as a casual comment and as a physical description to the extent that I almost began playing ‘arse’ bingo to spot it as I read. Mind you, that did add to my entertainment value from the book too!
That aside, I thoroughly enjoyed Christmas at Lilac Cottage. I appreciated the way in which Holly Martin set up the difficulties in relationships so that there was good tension in what is, essentially, a feel-good read. Whilst I didn’t always agree with the way Henry and Penny conducted their relationship I could understand why they behaved the way they did and I though it was very realistically portrayed so that I was on their side throughout.
I thought this realism was carried through into a really well created plot too. The events that create tension are those we could all, as readers, easily relate to. I really enjoyed the unusual premise of an ice sculptor in Penny too, and learnt quite a bit about a topic I’ve never really thought about before. Considering Daisy’s mother and the responses of the townsfolk to Penny’s past relationship made me appreciate how other people’s attitudes can affect us and I thought this was one of the most successful aspects of Christmas at the Lilac Cottage. It may be a conventional Christmas read in some respects, illustrating a difficult relationship between two highly attractive main characters, but there was also much to think about too.
Although I liked the characters of Penny, Henry and Daisy in particular, even the smallest bit-part players also felt real and three dimensional through Holly Martin’s descriptions. I think Henry must be every heterosexual woman’s dream and I loved the romantic sections involving him and Penny. These aspects also gave much of the humour too especially through Penny’s voluble explanations and that scene in the car, so that reading Christmas at the Lilac Cottage was enormously entertaining and frequently had me giggling.
I don’t often mention book covers, but in this case I have to say how beautifully sparkly and festive Christmas at the Lilac Cottage is. The image in this blog post doesn’t do it justice and merely picking it up to read lifted my spirits.
Christmas at the Lilac Cottage is a lovely feel-good read just right for the run up to Christmas – a season which forms the back drop of the story, but doesn’t over dominate. Even better, there’s a smashing recipe just asking to be backed at the end too. I’m looking forward to reading much more from Holly Martin in the future.
About Holly Martin
Holly Martin studied media at university which led to a very glitzy career as a hotel receptionist followed by a even more glamorous two years working in a bank. The moment that one of her colleagues received the much coveted carriage clock for fifteen years’ service was the moment when she knew she had to escape. She quit her job and returned to university to train to be a teacher.
Three years later, she emerged wide eyed and terrified that she now had responsibility for the development of thirty young minds. She taught for four years and then escaped the classroom to teach history workshops, dressing up as a Viking one day and an Egyptian High Priestess the next. But the long journeys around the UK and many hours sat on the M25 gave her a lot of time to plan out her stories and she now writes full time, doing what she loves.
Holly has been writing for 7 years. She was shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance. Her short story won the Sunlounger competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology. She won the Carina Valentine’s competition at the Festival of Romance 2013 with her novel The Guestbook. She was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read, Best eBook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction at the Festival of Romance 2014.