Blog Tours, book reviews

Blog Tour | Christmas in Rose Bend by Naima Simone

I received an early copy of this book from Harlequin in exchange for an honest review.

Nessa and her teenaged sister Ivy arrive in Rose Bend without an ounce of Christmas spirit and plenty of surliness. Nessa was still reeling from both the death of her mother and her deathbed confession eight months earlier when the father she shares with Ivy also passes away, leaving Nessa custody of Ivy and sending them off to spend Christmas in Rose Bend. Neither of the sisters know what they’re supposed to find in Rose Bend or what they’re meant to do there but the small town folks that live there have no such uncertainties- Rose Bend is the epitome of Christmas and the folks that live there are determined to take Nessa and Ivy into their fold and imbue them with the sense of love and family they dearly need if its the last thing they ever do. While Ivy connects with a group of kids her own age Nessa attempts to avoid any human interaction. Unfortunately for her, Wolf Dennison has other plans and the connection between them is electric and immediate. Nessa, used to being abandoned by all the people she’s ever cared about, is intent on keeping things platonic with Wolf while she suffers in silence under a heavy burden she must bear on her own. But some things are too big to be controlled and even Nessa’s stubbornness will crack in the face of Wolf and his loving family. 

Christmas in Rose Bend perfectly encapsulates everything Christmas. The small-town feels and festive holiday celebrations happening throughout this entire story were exactly what I was hoping for when I started this book. This is the second installment in a series which I didn’t know when I agreed to participate in the blog tour but decided to stay the course and finish it anyway since I had already agreed to do so. Luckily, I discovered pretty quickly that this story could be read as a standalone. There are hints of the major events that happened in book one and I suspect reading the first book prior to this one would add a level of enjoyment to the reading experience but its not at all necessary.

In time the characters grew on me even if I was a little put off by the unfriendly demeanors of the sisters in the beginning. This part of the story arc was necessary for character growth and I completely understand that. On the flip side I really enjoyed Wolf and his big affectionate family- I also loved that this story was set at the Inn they owned and lived in; it added a layer of warmth and coziness that the book dearly needed in the beginning. I do have to admit that I wish Wolfgang wasn’t portrayed quite so perfectly. I enjoy flaws in my characters; it makes them more genuine and believable. Other than that I thought the dynamic between the family, friends and townspeople was well done and I appreciated the fact that a biracial relationship was front and center in this novel- something I wish we could see a lot more of in all genres. Additionally, I’d like to point out that the author did a fantastic job capturing that atmosphere so unique to small towns including all the drama that often comes with it. That simply cannot be helped in a place where everyone knows their neighbor and Nessa gets a taste of that when faced with Wolf’s ex-fiancé. Fortunately, the love and kindness often seen in places like this trumps the negative, making it the perfect setting for a holiday romance.

One of the best parts of this story was seeing Nessa and Ivy learn to be more patient and honest with each other and watching their relationship thrive because of it. It was heartwarming to see them both break down their carefully built walls in order to let the magic of the holiday season surround them after so long drowning in grief. This novel also had one of the most satisfying endings I’ve read in a while. I loved everything about it and had a big ole smile on my face the whole time. I can’t really pinpoint exactly what it was about the conclusion of this book that made me so happy but I think a lot of the reason is owed to the fact that so much of this story was weighed down by illness, loss, grief and abandonment that it was a relief when the weight was finally lifted. The other part is most likely because I was a living vicariously through the characters- I can think of nothing better than a small town covered in snow for the Christmas season and being surrounded by friends, family and people who genuinely care about you. Both Nessa and Ivy started this journey feeling like they had no one in the world and came out the other side part of a lovely family. What’s not to like about that?

View all my reviews

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Naima Simone’s love of romance was first stirred by Johanna Lindsey and Nora Roberts years ago. Well not that many. She is only eighteen…ish. Published since 2009, she spends her days writing sizzling romances with heart, a touch of humor and snark. She is wife to Superman- or his non-Kryptonian equivalent- and mother to the most awesome kids ever. They live in perfect, sometimes domestically-challenged bliss in the southern U.S.

Find Naima on social media:

Author Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Blog Tours, book reviews

Blog Tour | The Christmas Escape by Sarah Morgan

Christy sends her daughter, Holly, ahead on their Christmas trip to Lapland with her best friend, Alix, so she can stay behind for a few days and support her husband, Seb, through an unexpected hardship. Little does Alix know, Seb’s best friend, Zac, is also accompanying her and she isn’t pleased about it, especially after their last heated encounter. To top it all off, the reason for Christy’s trip to Lapland was to reconnect with her estranged Aunt Robyn and learn the reason for the separation once and for all. Truths will be exposed and hopefully the magical setting of the Northern Lights, majestic pines and glistening snow will be enough to see them all through.

I really, really enjoyed this novel. The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the reasons I liked this book is the setting. I can’t think of a more magical, Christmas atmosphere than Lapland. Add in Aunt Robyn’s winter getaway with a beautiful lodge and romantic cabins and the setting is elevated even more. There is snow-shoeing, sled dogs, visiting Santa, seeing the Northern Lights… It was just wonderful. By the time I was done Lapland was added to my own personal bucket list.

The characters are dynamic and interesting. I loved watching Alix and Zack break down the walls between them and finally face the things that are getting in the way of any budding relationship they may have had over the years. Alix is very witty and I found myself laughing out loud at her antics. Christy and Seb have been married for five years but are just now accepting the truth that they don’t know each other as well as they thought and they use their much needed alone time acquainting themselves with each other. Robyn has been waiting and hoping for the moment she might be able to reconnect with her niece that she hasn’t seen since she was three years old. She’s desperate to make amends and her husband Eric is there to support her in all things. Each character brought something new to the story and I was never bored while reading.

The Christmas Escape opened on Christy facing some things she was having trouble dealing with, leading me to believe the book would be a bit darker than I had expected but this simply wasn’t the case. This ended up being such a lovely, heartwarming story that I never wanted to put it down. If this book doesn’t put you in the Christmas spirit than nothing will. Central to the plot of the book is Christy and Alix’s lifelong friendship and their very special bond with one another. But even that will be put to the test in this story of family, friendships and discovery.

View all my reviews

About the Author

USA Today Bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction. Her trademark humor and warmth have gained her fans across the globe and three RITA Awards from the Romance Writers of America. Sarah lives in London, England, where the rain frequently keeps her trapped in her office.

Find her on social media:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Author Website

Blog Tours, book reviews

Blog Tour | Meet Me in London by Georgia Toffolo

Meet Me in London is the first installment in the Meet Me series. This book follows Victoria, an independent clothing designer, teacher, and bartender, and Oliver, a billionaire department store owner. The two of them bump into each other on the street- literally- leading to Oliver giving Victoria a sneak peak of the new department store and haberdashery prior to opening. One thing leads to another and before you know it the two of them have a deal that includes Oliver doing a runway show for Victoria’s students and Victoria playing the part of Oliver’s fiancé to appease his parents. But what happens when playacting becomes reality and one of you is keeping secrets?

My favorite element of this story was definitely the atmosphere- London during the holiday season, including a big beautiful department store with all the trappings- I wanted to crawl into this story and stay forever for the holiday vibes alone. There is something about the holiday season that makes everything feel a bit more magical than any other time of the year and this story was no exception. 

I really enjoyed the characters- I found Oliver to be humble and sweet even giving his very wealthy upbringing and life. Victoria is smart and independent with a great group of girlfriends that she can both lean on and celebrate with whenever she needs to. Due to a horrific tragedy that they all endured together as teenagers they have a very special bond; no one else can understand what they went through like they can. I could personally relate to the main character in this way, having suffered a similar hardship when I was a teenager. And while I have a more personal understanding due to this I still had a hard time believing this thing had such an impact on their lives, so many years later, that it would dictate where the characters would live, the things they would do, and create an unbreakable bond between them- even with them all living in various places across the globe. 

The romance between Victoria and Oliver was cute. I didn’t really feel the chemistry that I’ve felt in the past when reading great romance books but I liked their relationship and the discussions that it brought to the table. Both characters were facing hardships in their lives, one the serious illness of a parent and the other a burdening secret. As far as the secret went, I didn’t get it. I wasn’t really convinced that this particular secret could be the catalyst keeping two people completely in love apart. I don’t really care for the miscommunication trope but I do appreciate the importance of the topic and the understanding and acceptance that Oliver showed in the end. 

If you’re looking for a romance to read during the holiday season I’d definitely recommend this one. It’s a quick read with that cozy atmosphere most of us look for this time of year and it has a feel-good ending we can all get behind. I personally wouldn’t recommend the audiobook. The author narrates it herself and while she has a lovely voice she doesn’t have the talent of a voice actress- to differentiate emotion and change the voice between characters. I found it hard to determine which character was speaking and when dialogue became monologue. 

Trigger Warnings: Chronic Illness, Car Accident, Death/Injury of a friend, and Infertility.

About the Author

Georgia Toffolo is a broadcaster and TV personality. She has been a film favorite with the public right from the start of her TV debut, Made in Chelsea, all the way to winning over the hearts of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here in 2018.

Georgia turned her eye to fashion and has curated two sell-out collections with fashion retailer Shein. An ambassador for many British brands, both large and small, Georgia has also collaborated with Dyson, Baileys, Emma Bridgewater, Great British Racing, Foreo and Malibu amongst many more.

Most recently, Georgia has dived into the world of fiction by publishing her debut novel Meet Me in London with publishing house Mills and Boon. This is the first of an original series of four books following a group of lifelong friends and bringing personal anecdotes to life with humor and charm.

You can find Georgia Toffolo on social media:

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tik Tok | Instagram | Goodreads