A Place to Call Home

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In the dead of night, Ayesha takes her daughter, Sabina, and slips quietly from her home, leaving behind a life of full of pain. Boarding a coach to London, all Ayesha wants is a fresh start.

Hayden, a former popstar, has kept himself hidden away for years. He’s only opened up his home to two people – Crystal, a professional dancer with a heart of gold, and Joy, an ill-tempered retiree with a soft spot for waifs and strays.

When Crystal asks Hayden if Ayesha and Sabina can stay with them, he reluctantly agrees and, as different as they may be, they quickly form an unlikely bond. So when enemies threaten their peaceful home, they will do all they can to save it and each other.

My opinion: When I saw that Carole Matthews had a new book coming out, I was quite naughty and preordered it, meaning I got a nice surprise on the publishing date when it was downloaded to my Kindle! I am quite a new fan of Carole Matthews, having only discovered her late last year, and know I have a lot of catching up to do!

This book is not your straight forward romance or chick lit book. In fact, it is so much more than that, and incredibly well written – I just wanted to say that up front!

Ayesha came to the UK as part of an arranged marriage and has been living with her husband, his family and their daughter, Sabina, ever since. Unfortunately, her marriage hasn’t been a happy one, and for the sake of her daughter, she has had to make a decision to leave her husband. But to ensure that they are safe, she has to do it in the dead of night and make sure that she covers her tracks so that he can never find her.

She goes to London, a city where 9 million people live and a place with lots of places to hide. She is found somewhere to live by a women’s charity and meets Crystal, a dancer, and retired Joy, who both live with Hayden, a retired pop star. The prescence of Ayesha and her mute daughter softens all three of them and helps them all with their personal struggles in different ways. Ayesha and Sabina also discover the joys of living in a safe, loving home. When this safety gets threatened, they must all work together to protect their lives and their home.

I absolutely loved this book and totally devoured it. I am extremely grateful for the business trip I was on while reading this, that meant that I had 8 hours on a train over two days and an evening in a hotel room on my own to give me all the time I needed to devote to this book! It is brilliantly written and is very sensitive to the topics it raises, such as domestic abuse, but in a way that is true to life.

There were plenty of times whilst reading this book that my eyes filled with tears and I held my breath with anxiety over what would happen next. It was absolutely brilliant, and I have a feeling that with every book of Carole’s I read, I will become a bigger and bigger fan!

Everyone should read this book!

My rating: A truly well deserved five stars

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Calling Mrs Christmas

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Cassie Smith has been out of work for a while but she has an idea. Drawing on her love of Christmas, she begins charging for small things: wrapping presents; writing cards; tree-decorating. She’s soon in huge demand and Cassie’s business, Calling Mrs Christmas, is born.

Carter Randall wants to make Christmas special for his children so he enlists Cassie’s help, and his lavish requests start taking up all her time. Thank goodness she can rely on her partner Jim to handle the rest of her clients.

When Carter asks Cassie to join them on a trip to Lapland, she knows she shouldn’t go. As much as tries, Cassie can’t deny how drawn she is to Carter and everything he has to offer, but she still loves her warm-hearted Jim. Suddenly Cassie finds herself facing a heart-breaking choice that could change her entire life.

My Opinion: For my last Christmassy read of the year I read Calling Mrs Christmas, the latest book from Carole Matthews.

Cassie comes up with an idea to make some money over the Christmas period and starts offering services to buy presents, decorate trees and do almost anything else to make people’s Christmasses a bit less stressful! The business is a huge success and she soon finds herself picking up a new client in the form of Carter Randall, after accidentally throwing a drink over him.

Carter procures Cassie’s services to make Christmas perfect for his children, by decorating and arranging the trip of a lifetime. Little does Cassie know that she will be asked to join them on the trip and end up having to make a life changing decision.

I enjoyed this book and thought that it was really well written with a well thought out storyline. The only thing that grated on me was Cassie. She is selfish, takes her partner Jim for granted and gets too easily swayed by the amount of money in someones wallet, rather than how they are as a person. It didn’t spoil the book for me though and I would recommend it to fans of chick lit and Carole Matthews.

My rating: A festive four stars.

A Cottage by the Sea

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Grace has been best friends with Ella and Flick since university. The late-night chats, shared heartaches and good times have created a bond that has stood the test of time. Now in their thirties, Grace is always a bit disappointed about how little time they get to spend together, so when Ella invites them all to stay for a week in her cottage in South Wales, Grace jumps at the chance to see her old friends. She also hopes that the change in pace will help her reconnect with her husband, Harry. Unfortunately for her, Harry isn’t as enamoured with Cwtch Cottage as she is. Then Flick arrives; loveable, bubbly Flick, accompanied by the handsome and charming Noah, and suddenly the week ahead looks as though it may be even more confusing for all the residents of Cwtch Cottage.

My opinion: I’m just going to come out and say it. I loved this book! This book is the first Carole Matthews book I have read and I will definitely be reading more. My TBR pile is about to grow again!!

The book is about three friends and their partners who spend a week together at Ella’s cottage in Pembrokeshire that she inherited from her parents. They’ve been friends since uni, but don’t see each other too often any more because of their busy lives so the holiday was a chance got then to catch up and have some fun together. As the week goes on we see that there are cracks in each one of their relationships, but each girl is trying to smooth things over as best they can and hope that the sea air will heal all!

The fact that this book is set in Pembrokeshire is a massive draw for me. It’s where I had my holidays as a child, and where my partner and I have stayed and gone exploring countless times over the years. The book describes the area beautifully, and even mentions our favourite beach, Barafundle! I have put a picture of it at the bottom of the review to share how gorgeous it is!

Other than Pembrokeshire, I also loved the characters and the way this book was constructed. Because it was only set over the period of a week, it could gave dragged, but was really well paced, and meant we got to know the characters a little better. I particularly loved Grace who had gone through her life on a set path, always doing the right thing, and the lovely Noah seemed like such a genuinely nice guy. I love it when the writer makes you feel like you really know a character. Grace’s husband Harry was a right bastard, but I liked that the writer implied it, but let me make up my own mind.

This book was so well written, and I really couldn’t out it down! I just kept thinking “I’ll just read one more chapter…”

A fantastic book, and I may have accidentally bought Calling Mrs Christmas by Carole Matthews too, so look out for a review of that one in the run up to Christmas!

My rating: A wonderful five stars!

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